With no sophomores in sight for head coach Jim Couch, the Pierce College women’s basketball team will be filled with brand new faces as they enter the season. Since Brahmas shooting guard Nichela’e Henderson tore her ACL, Pierce is left with a young team that will need to grow up fast if they want to be successful.
Offensively the Brahmas will be running a Princeton motion offense to score. Its game will have to rely more on the ability to make cuts opposed to spacing the floor to hit open shooters. With a lack of a true perimeter threat, Pierce will be rely mostly on scoring through picks and rolls, and slicing to the basket. The Brahmas have the speed to execute these plays with guards such as JaVay Dawn, the team’s best ball handler, and Adrienne Bailey who is the team’s most well-rounded player. Pierce will also have a down-low threat with Ahlisha Henderson that scored 21 points and had 18 rebounds in her second game of the season.
Defensively the Brahmas will match up with any bigs because of Ahlisha Henderson, a 6’3 freshman from Reseda. For her size, Henderson has excellent footwork and a good basketball I.Q., which makes her a valuable asset in Pierce’s 2-3 zone offense. However, this team is one of the most poorly conditioned teams at Pierce. There is not much fault to be placed on the players, as it is the coaches that are not preparing the team during the preseason. If the coaches for Pierce expect the team to just play into getting condition, there will be a lot of frustration with the players because there is more of an emphasis on fitness then practicing the game of basketball.
At 6’3, with a wide body and a sister who was a former Brahma, Ahlisha Henderson has the makings to be one of the best players that Pierce has ever had. She is fundamentally sound, has an offensive repertoire that allows her to work inside and outside as well as being quick and agile to balls defensively. She will be the base of this very young Pierce team. Not only does she have impressive natural ability but her sister Brittany Henderson led Pierce to a 25-6 record in 2007. Knowing the tradition and culture that Pierce had in the past, she will attempt to lead the Brahmas back to bigger pastures.
JaVay Dawn is an impressive ball handler and her overall speed makes her one of the more dynamic players for Pierce. In addition to her speed, she has the knack for making flashy passes, but flashy doesn’t always mean smart. With a bad tendency to turn the ball over too much, she will have to take a more simple and fundamental approach if the Brahmas are to run their offense effectively.
Adrienne Bailey in terms of raw ability and effort will be a player to watch out for this season. A player born in downtown Los Angeles, she is the Brahmas best perimeter shooter and most athletically gifted player guards on this team. Along with an impressive wingspan Bailey has the heart and character to lead this team. What she will have to work on though is maintaining her confidence and trusting herself to make the right plays. Being a team that is so young, mistakes are going to be made and she cannot get passive. It will be a process for the team to get antiquated this season without any sophomores, but she has the potential to make this team competitive.
Dawn has the potential to be one of the Brahmas biggest assets on the court, but her stubbornness could also be Pierce’s downfall. She is turnover prone at times and the attitude on the court is not worthy of college basketball. The Brahmas lost their first two games of the season by double digits, but she can’t turn on herself or the team since the season is barely beginning.
Conditioning has been and will be the biggest issue for the Brahmas all season long. This is a team that struggles getting up and down the floor and if nothing changes, it will be a long season for the Brahmas who already play in one of most competitive conferences in women’s basketball.
Pierce head coach Jim Couch will have the tough task of putting the pieces together for this young team. Without a returning sophomore in sight after Nichela’e Henderson went down with a torn ACL, Couch is left without any veterans who know his system. For Couch, he has the talent and the athleticism to make this team competitive, but the playoffs will be an elusive goal unless the team can play the game consistently.
With Dawn, Henderson and Bailey the Brahmas team has a good foundation to make for a solid basketball team but it takes more than good player to win especially at the college level. The conditioning has to improve drastically and it will be the difference in the team’s overall success.