Sept. 29, 2013
Tyrese Tanner led Auburn in scoring last season with 14.2 points per game (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. – For second-year Auburn women’s basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, playing running and pressing isn’t just a philosophy. It’s at the very core of her program.
Tuesday, the demands of playing the Williams-Flournoy way will be driven home once again when the Tigers open preseason practice. With six freshmen and two junior college transfers, Williams-Flournoy will have more players. And there’ll be a new rule that she says will help the Tigers play faster and press more.
Starting in the coming season, women will have a 10-second count to cross midcourt. In the past, teams could take as long as they wanted. They were bound only by the 30-second shot clock.
“Oh, absolutely,” Flournoy said. “I’m excited about it. We get to move some of our presses even further up. For any pressing teams, that’s a great rule. When we press, we want a team to have from 18-15 seconds left when they begin their offense. Now, they aren’t going to have that freedom in the backcourt. Hopefully, it will force teams to play faster than they want to.”
Williams-Flournoy’s way was something of a culture shock to Auburn players when she arrived in the spring of 2012. It demanded a level of conditioning they had not experienced.
Players struggled to adjust last season, losing eight straight Southeastern Conference games at one point. But things changed down the stretch, and the Tigers advanced to the WNIT quarterfinals and finished 19-15 overall.
Four of the top five scorers return, led by senior Tyrese Tanner and junior Hasina Muhammad. Tanner averaged 14.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season. Muhammad averaged 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds.
“We recruited young ladies to fit our style of play, and I think we did a pretty good job of it,” Williams-Flournoy said. “They can definitely play the way we want them to play. The times we’ve been able to be on the court with them, you can see they are going to help us in positions we need. They are still freshmen, but there is hope and anticipation they’ll do well.”
Tyrese Tanner arrived at Auburn on the heels of the 2010 SEC championship. She says she wants to know that feeling before she leaves.
“We are striving to win the SEC with this class,” Tanner said. “I’m excited to see what they have. They are quick. We have a lot more bodies now. It’s good to have people behind us that can also play defense. I’m excited.”
Williams-Flournoy says even the veterans need to take their conditioning to a higher level than they ever reached last season.
“They know where they have to be,” Williams-Flournoy said. “It’s still a different style play for them. I think they’ll do much better. I think they really understand the physicality of it and how much better shape they have to be in.”
The Tigers will open their season on Nov. 9 against Georgia Southern at Auburn Arena.
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: