BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Thomas Dale

THOMAS DALE GIRLS

Departures: The Knights will be a very young team in 2013-2014, looking to improve on a 7-13 overall mark and 7-7 Central District record. The Lady Knights roster includes just three seniors.
Returning players: Seniors Makeese Bell and T’Keyah Barnes return, along with junior guard Rachel Millant as players with substantial varsity experience.
Backcourt: Led by Bell and Millant, this is where the experience lies for the Lady Knights. Both guards will be expected to lead the team and help other players develop. Offense is an area of concern for Dale, who will look to play tough defense in an attempt to create offense. That will start with the backcourt pressuring the ball.
Frontcourt: This unit is led by senior T’keyah Barnes. Elena Flowers, a sophomore, has progressed well early in practice. Monique Jones, a freshman, has impressed both coaches and teammates with her skill and will likely start at small forward.
Coaching: Pam Hughes is a first year head coach for Dale. Hughes, who formerly coached at Matoaca is looking to build a culture of excellence. “We’re excited to get this season started,” she stated.
X-Factor: Youth. With a young team, the Lady Knights will build on that. The Knights are in rebuilding mode and have some talent.
Season Opener: Tuesday, December 3 at Prince George, 7 p.m.

WHO TO WATCH

Makeese Bell, senior guard: Bell was a standout for the Knights in a season where they broke even in the Central District. Last season, she played more of a post role at 5’4 but this year will be playing in the backcourt more often. The senior has been working on ball handling skills and learning to see things from a guard’s perspective. Head Coach Pam Hughes called her the team’s “role model.”

COACH'S KEY TO SUCCESS

Creating offense from defense. Early in practice, the Knights have been working on both sides of the ball, but using the team’s speed to force turnovers and create offensive opportunities is something Hughes is emphasizing in practice.

THOMAS DALE BOYS

Departures: Central District Player of the Year Kavon Waller graduated and is a redshirt freshman at Delaware State. He led Thomas Dale to a 12-8 overall and 8-4 Central District record last year.

Returning Players: Andrien White, A.J. Holliday, Collin Fleischer and Joe Smith. The Knights only lost one senior who got significant playing time. Christian Clark also returns for Dale.

Backcourt: Holliday is being recruited by several division three schools and will run the point along side off-guard and shooter Smith. Holliday is head coach Eddie Goss’ floor general. The senior is a good decision maker- knowing when to push and knowing when to call off the dogs.

Frontcourt: Andrien White is the team’s leading returning scorer at 12.4 points per game. Collin Fleischer recently committed to VMI for baseball, averaged a double-double last season (points/rebounds). Christian Clark and Niles Tate will also contribute.

Coaching: Calling Head Coach Eddie Goss a “fixture” doesn’t do him justice. The veteran enters his 44th season of head coaching and his 26th at Dale. Goss enters the season with 548 career victories.

X-Factor: Bench/Youth. Dale has a couple of freshman guards that should contribute off the bench in M.J. Coleman and Carlton Williams. The Knights possess a very experienced starting line-up, but a young bench must contribute to balance things out.

Season Opener: Wednesday, December 4, at home vs. Thomas Jefferson, 7 p.m.

WHO TO WATCH

Andrien White, junior forward: Coach Eddie Goss called White a scorer. “He’s hard to stop,” he said. White is 6’3 and will be seeing time as a three and in the front court for the Knights this season. The younger brother of current Kansas Jayhawk Andrew White, Andrein is carving out a name for himself with several division one schools interested.

COACH'S KEY TO SUCCESS

Intensity. Goss stated that last year’s team could have been more intense at times, and suggested that if the team kept up intensity, they could have won an additional three or four games. This year, Goss expects the team to stay after it and seal the deal in close games.

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