By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
A number of the Southeastern Conference women’s basketball programs opened their preseason practice for the 2011-12 season this week. Last season, women's basketball coaches changed their start day of official practices to have a 40-day window to conduct their 30 days of practice prior to opening the season.
Below is a sampling of what some of the league’s head coaches had to say about the start of practices and their upcoming seasons.
Wendell Hudson, Alabama Head Coach
“We had an outstanding first day of practice. The concentration level was as high as it has ever been since we took over the program. The work ethic this team showed in preseason training has definitely carried over into the start of practice. This is a very talented group of young ladies, and we are all excited about the potential for this season.”
Tom Collen, Arkansas Head Coach
“We are excited to have a veteran team returning. I can’t remember a team I coached that returns their top seven or eight scorers. This group had a lot of ups and downs last year, but the first thing that comes to mind is that experienced players tend to make fewer mistakes. Although the starting lineup is still to be determined, I know the competition between veterans and newcomers should only make us better. We will be a little more confident and relaxed in late game situations and that could be the difference in the postseason this year.”
Amanda Butler, Florida Head Coach
“It’s very exciting. That may be a simple way to put it, but that sums it up the best. Our team has been chomping at the bit since the season ended last year. It’s a great group of kids and they have been working hard. I liked our intensity in our first practice, I liked the way we were talking and communicating and I thought we looked really good.”
Renee Ladner, Ole Miss Head Coach
“We are anxiously awaiting the opening of the new season. We’ve got a bunch of young players that are talented to go with our upperclassmen that really like to play hard and play fast. I think we are going to be a really good transition team. With having so many young players they have had enough of the preseason workouts. They are ready to come together, much like we did on the Canadian trip, and pick up where we left off.”
Sharon Fanning-Otis, Mississippi State Head Coach
“We are always excited this time of the year to be getting back to work as a team. We made a lot of progress last season, and we anticipate carrying that over to this year. We are excited about the newcomers on this year's team. We think they can come in and contribute immediately to our squad.”
Dawn Staley, South Carolina Head Coach
“Every year, we strive to get to the NCAA Tournament and I think this year is no different. I do like our team; we’ve added some skill, we’ve added some athleticism, and we’ve added some height to our basketball team with already the core players that understand how we like to play. They understand how we need to play in our league and how we need to play in the pre-conference season as well.”