Nearly everything new for ASU women

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

LORMAN &045; Alcorn women’s head coach has seen coached enough basketball to know you never get too high or too low heading into a season.

But one thing she hasn’t seen in a while?

A big non-conference win by a Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent.

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Entering her 28th year and coming off a 73-41 loss to Michigan State &045; the eventual runner-up in the NCAA Tournament &045; Walker has a rebuilding project following the loss of four starters and nearly 40 points a game.

Her Lady Braves want to knock off someone out of conference and will have an opportunity to do so. If her club can’t do it, someone else would be just fine.

&8221;I want to beat somebody in preseason,&8220; Walker said during Wednesday’s preseason teleconference. &8221;That’s what we hear a lot of times &045;&160;get into this preseason so I can get ready for SWAC. I want to be ready for SWAC, but I want to beat somebody out there that’s non-conference. I want to see, personally myself, somebody in our conference to be big, play big in the preseason, play big in the postseason and move to the second round (in the NCAAs).&8220;

Her club nearly did that last season when Rasaan Powell’s shot at the buzzer banged off the backboard in a 62-61 loss at home to Louisiana Tech. The Lady Braves will return the game to Tech this season with a game at Ruston, but this time their team will be significantly different.

Only Woodville native Natasha Dennis returns from a team that had three four-year starters and an experienced point guard that led it to a SWAC Championship.

The Lady Braves were picked to finish third this season in the conference race behind Southern and Grambling.

&8221;I don’t know if I have enough ammunition, but I like the kids’ attitudes,&8220; Walker said. &8221;I just don’t think at this time &045; the only thing I can base it on is the attitude. I love their attitude. I know the leadership of a couple of kids I have coming back &045; they’re showing a lot and showing the coaching ability as far as where they want to this team to go.&8220;

While the Lady Braves will no longer rely the services of LaToya Johnson, Shikhia Sims, Tnonealyer Powers and Candace Roberts, Dennis will be the marquee scorer along with other players who will step up into key roles this season.

The biggest contributor may be underneath in 6-2 post Rasaan Powell, a physical presence who started several games midway through the season. Powell averaged just under 10 points a game and was the team’s top rebounder at 6.7 a game.

Powell was named to the Preseason All-SWAC first team.

&8221;Shan know she needs to play at least much better,&8220; Walker said. &8221;I’m sure she would have more time. We’ll be depending on her a lot. I’m hoping she’ll be able to drop some pounds, which means she’ll be able to move a little quicker. We’ll depend on Shan and other girls in the post.&8220;

The point guard position is a concern right now for Walker, who may go with sophomore Tanika Nunez there or freshman Brittany Myatt, a recuit Walker likes out of Detroit. Tiffaney Smith may compete for time there as well.

&8221;I’m very worried about that slot,&8220; Walker said. &8221;Tanika, I hope she gets stronger. She had some problems last year with injuries. She’s very timid. She’s the person I’m looking at. We’re very young there. If we play a game Sat, if he had had go 40 minutes and hope she stays healthy, that’s what I’d like to be at. Right now, that’s a question I can’t answer.&8220;

Other slots are up for grabs as well, but look for Hawaii native LaToya Wily to compete for the power forward spot after playing well off the bench last season. Dennis can go at either shooting guard or small forward with one of the prettiest shots you’ll find.

But there’s newcomers and new positions to win. Walker had five newcomers this season with only two seniors &045; Dennis and reserve Precious Sheats.

&8221;We’re going to be very young in certain spots,&8220; Walker said. &8221;We’ve got a lot of growing to do. We’ve work hard to try to get to where we would like to be and hope we stay healthy. The conditioning program we’ve been going through, I’m hoping it’ll iron out all the kinks.&8220;