TCU women’s basketball digs deep to fix deficiencies

Posted Sunday, Nov. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information TCU’s newcomers G Alexann Yancey, Sr., 5-8, transfer from OU C Klara Bradshaw, Fr. 6-6 G/F Jada Butts, Fr., 5-8 G AJ Alix, Fr., 5-6 G Alexia Standish, Jr. 5-8, will sit out this year per transfer rules

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Before the TCU women’s basketball team began its first campaign through Big 12 play last season, coach Jeff Mittie knew depth would be necessary.

At center, TCU lived and died by 6-foot-3 Latricia Lovings, one of only three players 6-foot-2 or taller on TCU’s roster. Even then, Lovings was undersized against the giants of the Big 12, such as Baylor’s Brittney Griner.

At point guard, TCU featured one of the conference’s best 3-point shooters, Zahna Medley.

It was a tough maiden voyage in the Big 12 for the Horned Frogs.

“Our young group, quite honestly, just got thrown in the fire,” Mittie said. “When you start three freshmen and you’re playing a bunch of freshmen, you have some lumps.”

However, with one recruiting class, Mittie has made strides toward building depth in those key positions, giving the team more versatility in several areas as the Horned Frogs head into their lone exhibition tonight against Southern Arkansas.

TCU now boasts one of the tallest women’s players in the country in 6-foot-6 freshman Klara Bradshaw.

Since the beginning of preseason practice, TCU has worked on a rotation that puts Lovings and Bradshaw together, giving Lovings the ability to take her team-best shot-blocking skills farther out to the perimeter.

It also allows Mittie more versatility in defensive sets, as TCU was forced to stick with a 2-3 zone through most of last season to help a smaller lineup.

However, rebounding will still be a priority for Mittie, he said.

“While we’re bigger, young centers don’t chase rebounds,” Mittie said. “They get rebounds because they’re bigger and taller and that’s just not how you get rebounds in college.”

Bradshaw has already made an instant impact on the program by giving Lovings a taller look defensively.

“In practice, last year, it was me and another center that was about the same height, so it didn’t challenge me to score over a taller person, but Klara, being strong as a freshman, she’s helping me score over bigger people so when conference starts it will help me against those bigger teams,” Lovings said.

Along the same lines, TCU’s biggest addition at point guard will not play this season due to NCAA transfer rules.

TCU picked up Colleyville native and Texas A&M transfer Alexia Standish over the summer and her competition with Medley has caught Mittie’s attention.

“I thought their workouts individually have been better than any point guard workouts I’ve had in my 20 years as a coach and I think it’s directly related to those two competing against each other,” he said.

Mittie also said he believes this is the deepest point guard corps he’s had in his 14-year tenure at TCU, which will allow Medley the opportunity to move into a shooting guard role as the team works to get her shots in offensive sets.

“I think we’ve got to get Medley as many shots as we can get her and if we have to ice her arm down after each game, we’ll ice her arm down after each game,” Mittie said.

It was a rough introduction to the Big 12 last season, as TCU finished 2-16 in conference play and lost in the first round of the Big 12 tournament. But that hasn’t stopped optimism that with experience gained and plenty of new faces, TCU’s sophomore year will be a rebound.

“We’re going into this season with a chip on our shoulder,” Lovings said. “We felt like we could have won a lot more games than two last year in conference play. Once the season starts, we’re playing with the intention to win the Big 12 or at least be in the top 5.”

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