Oct. 23, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - For senior Tyrese Tanner, the leading scorer the past two seasons for Auburn's women's basketball team, the coming season will bring yet another new challenge.
Last season, she and her teammates had to learn and adjust to head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy's high-speed, pressing style of play. This season, Tanner has moved from the perimeter to the power forward position.
"I played forward in high school, so it's not a drastic change for me," Tanner said. "We have a lot of guards this year. I had fun playing at the top of the press, but the back of the press is good as well."
Williams-Flournoy, with eight newcomers on the roster, said Tanner will bring more athleticism to the position vacated after last season by Blanche Alverson.
"Tyrese definitely has to step it up, which she has done already," Williams-Flournoy said. "Bringing in four new wing players, I thought it was important to put her on the back line at the 4 position. That gives us more athleticism in the back line of our press, plus it gives you a 4 that can play on the outside and put the ball on the floor and shoot."
Three weeks into preseason practice, the Tigers are less than three weeks away from their season-opener against Georgia Southern on Nov. 9. They'll scrimmage Georgia State at Auburn Arena on Saturday and go to Troy for another scrimmage the following Saturday.
"Needless to say, practice has been quite interesting with eight newcomers out there," Williams-Flournoy said. "There has been a lot of teaching, a lot of slowing down. I've definitely taken my playbook and sliced it in half, trying to figure out the best offense for us to run and the most efficient but still not too much for them, especially with three new point guards.
"Defense just takes a little effort, a little heart, a little hustle. That part of it has been a lot easier. They are working hard. They are figuring it out. They are getting better every day."
Tanner and center Peyton Davis are the only seniors on the team that reached the quarterfinals of the WNIT last season. It is imperative, Williams-Flournoy says, that they lead the way as their younger teammates find their way.
"Ty has really learned how to be a leader for this team," Williams-Flournoy said. "... As seniors both she and Peyton have figured out it's time for somebody to step up. If they want to have a great senior year, somebody has to lead them."
The Tigers could have as three newcomers in the starting lineup when the season starts. There will definitely be a new point guard, where junior college transfer Kiani Parker leads freshmen Allina Starr and Megan Tucker in ongoing competition. Freshmen Brandy Montgomery and Katie Frerking are pushing hard for starting spots at the wing positions.
Regardless of who starts, Williams-Flournoy says there will be strength in numbers she didn't have last season.
"The numbers give us a chance to play consistently hard for 40 minutes," Williams-Flournoy said. "Last year, I thought our kids got tired. They got tired because they couldn't get the rest they really needed. To play the way we play, you have to be able to get the rest. You can't play our style of ball and average 35-38 minutes. We really make them play both ends of the floor."
Davis says Williams-Flournoy and her staff have brought new energy and new optimism to Auburn women's basketball.
"I honestly wish I had four years under Coach Flo," Davis said. "She has really encouraged all of us. These past two years have been incredible. She's asked a lot of us. I'm really excited to have a coach that wants us to do well and pushes us so hard.
"...You don't want to disappoint this coaching staff. It's how they coach and how they teach. I'll do anything I can to keep from doing that."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: