Lady Cru ready to start new season
Monday, 19 November 2012 by Matthew Girard
After making the postseason two out of the last three seasons, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor women's basketball team is headed in a new direction under the guidance of first-year head coach Lisa Curliss-Taylor.
Although the Lady Crusaders made two straight postseason appearances in 2009-10 and 2010-11, UMHB fell on hard times last season finishing with a 6-19 overall record and 5-16 in American Southwest Conference play.
In March, Curliss-Taylor became the ninth women's basketball coach in school history after spending the last five seasons as the head coach at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She previously built a winning program at East Texas Baptist University as the Lady Tigers claimed the 2006-07 ASC East Division title and won the East Division Coach of the Year Award.
Curliss-Taylor said she is excited to be back in the conference and is looking forward to brining UMHB back to the top of the conference.
"It's a tough conference which is what's appealing in coming back," Curliss-Taylor said. "There are a lot of good teams, a lot of good competition in this conference and it means a lot to come back and try to rebuild this program."
Despite winning just six games last year, Curliss-Taylor inherits nine returning players, most of which are underclassmen. This year's squad features just two seniors in forward Brandy Dittert and Gabby Guzman.
Guzman is the team's top returning scorer after averaging 6 points per game last season, but she and Dittert have missed most of training camp with injuries.
"We've been practicing without a senior this whole time and it's a big difference when you don't have a senior in practice on the floor with you," Curliss-Taylor said. "But, we've got a lot of young leadership that is going to be impressive this year and in the future of this program."
Some of those young leaders include Kilgore-transfer Taylor Tucker, Macy Moore, Kourtney Bevers, Samara Williams and Jovana Miles.
"Taylor Tucker has the experience of playing and I think she has the potential to be the Newcomer of the year if she can continue to play how she knows how to play," Curliss-Taylor said. "Kourtney Bevers is a great leader and will run the point for us, and Macy Moore is a good shooter and defender."
Curliss-Taylor said the Lady Crusaders have picked up her system quickly.
"The style of play that I like to coach will help," Curliss-Taylor said in turning the program into a contender once again. "The players that are returning are adjusting fairly well for this being the first year with a whole new philosophy. We have to be able to run, we've got to be able to defend and we've got to be able to press."
Curliss-Taylor is a 2001 graduate of the University of Oklahoma and also played two seasons at Oral Roberts University.
"I've been in all kinds of different programs and I've learned from everywhere I've been," Curliss-Taylor said.
The Lady Crusaders will open their season this weekend against Southwestern University on Friday and against Whitworth University on Saturday. Both games will be in Georgetown.
UMHB will open its home schedule against Southwestern at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 20. The Lady Cru will also play at home on Nov. 28 against Trinity.