Coach Jeremaine Williams likes what he’s seen from his young Enterprise State women’s basketball team so far. He also likes what he’s heard from them.
They’re telling him what went wrong after games.
“Coach, we lost because we had careless turnovers.” “We lost because we didn’t rebound.” “We didn’t play hard on defense.” “We didn’t execute on offense.”
“A lot of kids wouldn’t admit that,” Williams said. “To hear that from them is great to see where they’re growing up and how they’re maturing.”
The Lady Boll Weevils haven’t exactly made a habit of losing. The team with just two sophomores shook off a shaky 0-3 start then won six straight games before dropping their first semester finale at Gadsden State.
“Overall, they got better,” Williams said of his young team. “Even the loss to Gadsden did not discourage them. You couldn’t ask for a better group. Even going home on Christmas break, they wanted to know what they needed to work on while they’re away from school. They’re ready to get back to make up for the loss we had.”
Williams said Enterprise State’s players are making the adjustment to this next level.
“They’re playing with two or three dribbles in the half-court,” he cited as an example. “A lot of kids today like to get fancy and try to do too much dribbling. They’re missing open people because they’re dribbling with their head down. On the offensive end, they’re making that extra pass that all coaches really try to get their players to do. They also understand the difference between a good and a bad shot. That’s giving us an opportunity to get rebounds on a good shot. On a bad shot, you’re not going to get a rebound.
“As far as the turnovers, in high school, they could make skip passes across the court. At this level, you can’t do that. I tell the girls all the time at this level, if a team has 15 players it has 15 good players. In high school, most teams have one or two players you have to stop. They’re understanding that part on the offensive side.”
The adjustment on the defensive side he’s seen is giving some help-side defense.
“They’re learning that, ‘OK, if I don’t have anybody to guard, I need to give some help,’” Williams said. “They’re growing up in all aspects of the game and understanding during the course of a game you have to make adjustments on offense or draw up an offensive play — and they’ll execute. They’re playing the game the right way.”
The coach credits his two sophomores — Laken Cook of Elba and Savannah Carty of Cleveland, Alabama — with helping bring the freshmen-dominated roster along.
“Their experience lets them tell the others, ‘Hey, the game is played at a faster pace,’” Williams said. “They’ll help a girl by telling her how to watch what their opponent is doing or take away her left hand.
“Some people think JUCO is just a high school level. It’s not. They understand their roles on the team as sophomores. They tell the team we can’t have jealousy, we have to play for each other. Just having that on the side and in the locker room is big. I’m blessed to have those two girls still be a part of the program.”
Freshmen Ivy Turner of Dothan and Jesslyn Culverhouse of Geneva are the team’s top two scorers, followed closely by Carty.
“When I recruited her, I told her, ‘Your role is to shoot,” Williams said with a chuckle. “That’s what she does.”
The coach likes the way Enterprise High product Gwen Mitchell has made the adjustment to this level.
“I’m proud of the way she’s come along since the first game, understanding that she doesn’t have to take a lot of shots to score a lot of points,” he said.
The six-game winning streak was a pleasant surprise since it came early in the year.
“I was very surprised how we came out for the season,” Williams said. “We played two really tough preseason jamboree games, one against Southwest Tennessee, which is a powerhouse, and we beat them. Then we played close with PJC. After those two games, I was thinking we’re going to be all right.
“The biggest thing was keeping the attitude and mindset that you can beat these teams. You can win. A lot of kids get discouraged with a tough schedule. This team didn’t do that. We lost our first three and won six in a row.”
Enterprise State returns from Christmas break on Dec. 30 to start preparing for its Jan. 7 conference opener at Coastal Alabama-South.
“We’ll try to make it as game-like as we can every practice,” Williams said.