New coach works to change Lady Texans’ approach

Posted Monday, Dec. 02, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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While the Northwest girls basketball team is enjoying a far better start (4-3) than what other recent teams went through, coach Rusty Johnson is nowhere near satisfied.

In fact, the journey toward making this program more than respectable has just started.

“The work ethic is there and energy is there,” Johnson said. “Now, it’s a matter of how to win games. It’s developing a mindset. We’re expecting to play to the physical and mental standard that we want.”

Johnson has overhauled the roster but said the seniors who are still with the team, like posts Brianna Barnhill and Bailey Porter, have bought into the philosophy and what Johnson wants to accomplish.

He doesn’t want this program to settle. In fact, it’s been three weeks since the Lady Texans lost to Decatur, 40-39, Nov. 11 on a three-pointer in the closing moments. A coaching veteran, Johnson would normally have the reasoning to move on. But because he’s trying to create a winning culture, he said that loss is staying with him.

“I want them to get the unacceptable feeling of losing,” Johnson said. “I want to them to be upset and disappointed. If we’re not disappointed that we’re losing, then we’re not progressing as a program.

“I want us to get to a level where when we take the floor, we expect to win. I want us to play meaningful games [in late January and early February] and I want our seniors to go out this year knowing they were a part of something that got better and that their last game was relevant. There may not [seem to] be much of a difference between 4-3 and 5-2, but there really is and I want them to understand that.”

Youth served

Northwest’s backcourt is pretty young with freshman off guard Alexis Brigham and sophomore point guard Marley Floyd. The two make a pretty interesting duo because they press the action offensively and continue to grow as defenders.

For Brigham, Johnson is making the most of her youthful energy, rarely taking her off the floor. She’s too valuable. The only time she sits is when she’s in foul trouble, Johnson said. When Floyd takes a breather, Brigham moves to the point.

“She’s talented. She steals and rebounds and handles the ball very well,” Johnson said of Brigham. “In my experience, she’s as talented a freshman I’ve ever been around.”

That’s important, because Johnson is still using this time of the season to develop a rotation. So far, he’s playing up to 12 players per game and wants to narrow the roster to five starters and two or three reserves coming off the bench.

On the surface, it would appear he has his five in in Brigham, Floyd, Shayla Vegas, Barnhill and Porter.

Notable

Johnson said he and the Wichita Falls Rider coaches are trying to find a way to make up the date for their lost game on Nov. 22. The Wichita Falls school district canceled all sporting events because of weather. Johnson is hoping the game can be made up over the Christmas break.

•  Byron Nelson (9-2) continued its torrid start with a 52-32 victory over Prosper on Nov. 26. Madison Edwards led the way with 14 points. Nelson played Keller Timber Creek on Tuesday.

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