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Strength in numbers as Auburn women open practice

Oct. 1, 2013

Senior Peyton Davis plans to be a leaner, quicker player for Auburn this season (Todd Van Emst photo)

 By Phillip Marshall

 AUBURN, Ala. – Second-year Auburn women’s basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy saw her players do some things she liked and some things she didn’t like as the Tigers opened preseason practice on Tuesday.

And for the first time since she arrived at Auburn, she had numerous options.

Last season, her first at Auburn, Flournoy had few options. She and her staff set out to do something about that in recruiting. The Tigers’ roster includes six freshmen, two junior college transfers and six returnees.

“We have a lot more bodies, a lot more athleticism,” Williams-Flournoy said. “We have a lot of different people at different positions. We don’t feel so handcuffed into only one person can play that one position. We are kind of moving people around a little bit, trying to figure out who can play two or three different positions.”

Williams-Flournoy wasted no time showing the newcomers and reminding the veterans what playing her running, pressing style is all about. The Tigers worked for three hours on their practice court at Auburn Arena.

Rules that allow limited practice during the offseason, Williams-Flournoy said, make the transition smoother than it otherwise would be.

“Getting some of the basketball in early helps you,” Williams-Flournoy said. “At this point, you are just trying to put the positions together, trying to figure out who can play which positions, who can’t play which positions, all that. It’s so early right now, but it’s a good time to figure it out, because then you know what to work on.”

Perhaps the most pressing question Auburn coaches must answer is who will replace Najat Ouardad as Auburn’s point guard. Junior college transfer Kiani Parker worked with the first team Monday, but freshmen Meagan Tucker and Allina Starr will have their chances.

“Point guard is huge,” Williams-Flournoy said. “Point guard on this team is a tough job. Right now, it’s up for grabs. (Parker) has led the way just through conditioning. She really worked the hardest. If you are in shape it makes playing the way we play a lot easier.”

Senior center Peyton Davis said the first day was a good one, but she said much remains to be done and learned before the season opener against Georgia Southern on Nov. 9.

“I think it went great,” Davis said. “I think we definitely have to work on our attention span a little bit. Hustling between drills is something we have to learn to do. We got caught walking a bunch.”

Those things will come, Davis said. And she expects victories to come with them.

“The team is going to be great,” she said. “There are a lot of people we can rotate in and out. Our press is going to be even more intense. It’s going to be great.”

Davis averaged 6.1 points and 4.9 rebounds as a junior, but she expected better things in her final Auburn season.

“I’ve lost a little more weight and put on some muscle,” she said. “I’m looking forward to be a quicker, leaner play to play the press like she likes to do.”

The Tigers return their top two scorers in senior Tyrese Tanner, who averaged 14.2 points per game last season, and junior Hasina Muhammad, who averaged 14 points per game. Muhammad is the leading returning rebounder at 5.1 per game.


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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