JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Oct. 1, 2018) – Heading into her sixth season as head coach of the ETSU women’s basketball program, Brittney Ezell and the rest of the Bucs kicked off their first official practice for the upcoming season on Monday night inside Brooks Gym.
“It was a good first day, 39 days away from the first game,” said Ezell. I liked our energy. I like the kids that we’ve added. I think they really compliment what we had returning. I’m just really pleased with the first day. I am cautiously optimistic every year until the first game happens, but today was good.”
While her team has been participating in preseason workouts throughout the summer months and earlier this semester, everyone was excited to get the ball rolling.
“Well we have more depth than we’ve ever had in my time here at ETSU,” shared Ezell. “We’ve never had 15 able bodies and I think the bench is going to be a positive motivator. There’s certain things that our kids need to understand. Effort and attitude are always expected. New kids think they can come in and if they can score they can play, but that’s not necessarily true. If you can guard, you can play. Do you do the little things? Do you have championship habits? Those are the things we’re working on to make sure they understand what it’s going to take because what it took to get here, won’t keep you here. We have to move to the next level and I was really pleased with our upperclassmen. Our younger ones are going to have a really good opportunity to step in early.
There’s nobody like Lexus Spears currently in our league. I think Kaia Upton has a really good chance to play early. I think Amaya Adams and E’Lease Stafford are going to give us some much needed depth on the wing. I was thrilled with Erica Haynes-Overton, Raven Dean and Brittney Snowden. I thought Anajae Stephney had her best first day and today was the first time she has been healthy on the first day. There’s a lot going on and I’m not used to seeing 15 of them. We have a long way to go, but if they keep working like that, then we’ll get there.”
The team will open its season on Friday, Nov. 9 at Cincinnati.
Last season the Bucs went 20-13 and 11-3 in the Southern Conference. Heading into the new season, the Bucs lost three key seniors in Tianna Tarter (Johnson City, Tenn.), Malloree Schurr (Montgomery, Texas), and Shy Copney (Johnson City, Tenn.). Tarter will forever leave her mark on the ETSU women’s basketball program. However, ETSU returns SoCon Freshman and Defensive Player of the year Erica Haynes-Overton (Nashville, Tenn.) and seniors Raven Dean (Charlotte, N.C.), Britney Snowden (Pensacola, Fla.) and Sadasia Tipps (Hickory, N.C.). Jada Craig (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Anajae Stephney (Knoxville, Tenn.) bring plenty of experience and growth to ETSU’s lineup. Carley Lytton (Floyd, Va.) and Micah Scheetz (Knoxville, Tenn.) return to the Buc’s lineup after sitting out last season.
For Snowden and Dean, it was their last first day of practice. Snowden shared, “I’m ecstatic. I’m ready for whatever any team has out there for us. I’m excited to see what my team is going to do this preseason and of course during the season as well.”
Dean was also just as pleased. “I’m excited to get it going, but I understand it’s a process. We’re just taking it a day at a time and trying to get better. Our team camaraderie is great. We built that up from the summer time and throughout the preseason. The identity of this team is a family. A team that cares. A team that wants to win. A team that wants to be good. Those are all good characteristics to have in a team and I’m excited to see what it brings.”
Ezell also welcomes seven newcomers to the 2018-19 squad with four freshmen and three transfers. This year’s freshman class includes Amaya Adams (Kansas City, Mo.), Shynia Jackson (Warner Robins, Ga.), E’Lease Stafford (Lawrence, Kan.), and Kaia Upton (Nashville, Tenn.). This year’s transfer class includes Kacie Fountain (Walker, La.), Taisha Murphy (Clayton, N.C.), and Lexus Spears (Jacksonville, Fla.).
With seven new faces to the squad, Ezell isn’t worried about the leadership on the team.
“I think the leadership question was answered early in this summer,” said Ezell. “Britney Snowden is the best leader I’ve ever coached. Period. I’ve been doing this since I was 23 years old. She’s the best leader, so if the other kids just fall in step with her, we’re going to have a full team of developed leaders. That’s part of my obligation, not just to win ball games, but to develop leaders and to develop people that can bring the best out of others.”
As for the season itself, the Bucs will host 13 home games, including games against Houston, Liberty, and High Point. Southern Conference action begins Jan. 12 at Chattanooga, but they host their first conference game on Jan. 16 when they welcome Furman. During Thanksgiving Break, the Bucs will travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, to play in the Vancouver Showcase. They start the tournament with the 2017 National Champion South Carolina on Nov. 22. For season ticket information please click here.
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For more information on Buccaneer women’s basketball visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the women’s basketball page.