Jacksonville Daily Progress
More often than not surprises are not looked upon favorably by coaches.
But when the Jacksonville College Lady Jaguars open an eight-game pre-season scrimmage schedule today in Frisco, surprises will be one of the primary things that Lady Jag head coach Lynn Nabi and associate head coach Leasa Ailshie will be looking for.
“We don't have a set (starting) five by any means,” Ailshie said during a mid-week interview. “We have an idea of who can do what and we have some combinations that we are eager to put on the floor.
“But at the same time we are looking for some kids to step up and to surprise us. Hopefully we will find some competitors who are willing to go out and fight for (starting spots and playing time).”
The JC ladies were slated to take on three Oklahoma junior colleges — Seminole State, Carl Albert and Western Oklahoma — today.
On Saturday the Lady Jags will be involved in a jamboree in Carrollton that will pit them against Temple, Weatherford and Southern-Shreveport.
Practice got under way on Oct. 1 for the JC women and Ailshie said that she has been pleased with the way that things have been going.
“We are gradually getting into shape and getting to the point where we need to be,” she said. “We are learning where we need to be on offense and on defense and were learning how to play as a team and those are some of the big things at this point.
“We're getting there, but we still have a long ways to go.”
Ailshie said that she will be looking at more that just the Lady Jags' physical abilities during the dress rehearsals.
“These scrimmages will be a good test for us mentally and physically,” Ailshie said. “At this point it is always good to see how a team reacts when they go up against another team.
“I think after the weekend scrimmages Coach Nabi and I will have a better idea of where the team's at.”
Ailshie said that a few players' talents have already caught the eye of the coaches.
“Kalyn Shorter (Bossier City, La.), has come along way after being red shirted last year,” Ailshie said. “She has improved tremendously and is a leader on our team and has been working very hard in practice.”
Shorter is contending for a starting spot a point guard.
The Lady Jags have nine freshmen on the roster, and a couple of those seemed to have emerged to the forefront of the pack.
“A few of our freshmen have started to meet our expectations,” Ailshie said. “Khadijah Carter from Goodrich (Texas)...she's an all-around great player and we are expecting her to have a big year for us. Susan Agesen from Edgewood plays and practices hard and can play several positions for us. She has come in much faster than we anticipated.
“Devanyar Workman from (Reading) Pennsylvania has been another highlight for us. She is a slasher that has a good move to the basket and she can finish well. She's a huge asset.”
Carter (6-foot-1) averaged 33 points and 11 rebounds a game last year at Goodrich and is a three-time Class 1A all-state pick.
She was voted MVP at the state all-star game over the summer.
Workman started the 2011-12 season off at JC, but had to return home for family reasons prior to the actual start of the regular season.
Ailshie said that this year's group of Lady Jags seem to have more speed and greater height than last year's club had.
“We're a lot faster than last year and we have a handful of post players, where we only had two last season,” Ailshie said.
The Lady Jags fell short of expectations lin 2011-12 by failing to qualify for the Region XIV post-season tournament.
Ailshie said that she believes things will be different this year and that the JC women will return to the conference's early-March showcase in Tyler.
“We have a sick feeling about last year and we want to bounce back,” she said. “We want settle for anything less than (qualifying for the post-season tournament).
“I know as a coach I'm definitely motivated to do whatever it takes and hopefully our players will have that same attitude.”