Nov. 8, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - With eight newcomers on the roster and two in the starting lineup, second-year Auburn women's basketball coach Terri Williams-Flournoy goes toward Saturday's season-opener with as many questions as answers.
Katie Frerking, a 6-foot-1 freshman, will start at shooting guard and Kiani Parker, a 5-foot-9 junior college transfer, will start at point guard when the Tigers take on Georgia Southern at 6 p.m. They'll be joined by senior Tyrese Tanner at the 3 position, sophomore Tra'Cee Tanner at the 4 and senior Peyton Davis at the 5. Sophomore Cabriana Capers, a 6-foot-1 forward, will also play a key role.
Frerking, from Wesleyan School in Johns Creek, Ga., went to summer school and reported for preseason practice ready to compete. Not only did she compete, she won a starting job.
"Katie has worked extremely hard," Williams-Flournoy said. "Having a chance to come in during the summer was enlightening for her. The Katie we saw this summer versus the Katie we saw in August was a tremendous change as far as conditioning, her work ethic. Katie can shoot the 3, she can put the ball on the floor, she has dribble penetration. She has a little of everything for us.
Defensively, just like everybody else, she's a little robotic. I think they all have to improve in that situation, but for Katie, it was something she earned.. It wasn't given to her at all."
Parker was signed as a shooting guard, but given the chance, she took charge at the point guard position and won the job over freshmen Meagan Tucker and Allina Starr.
"She ended up playing some point guard her last year in junior college because their point guard was injured," Williams-Flournoy said. "Kiani really gave our freshmen a chance to sit back and learn. The biggest thing you don't want for a freshman is for them to have disappointment.
"Kiani came with maturity. She came with the conditioning. She understood the defense we want to play. She understands both ends of the floor have to be played."
The newcomers, including six freshmen and two junior college transfers, have made significant progress, Williams-Flournoy said. But she said is needed
"We looked better yesterday than we did on Oct. 1," Williams-Flournoy said. "We are constantly improving. The biggest thing with them is not being robots. Right now they are being very robotic. They are doing exactly what we tell them to and not anticipating what the next play will be, where the next steal can be. There are certain things they have to get more comfortable. Right now, they are just trying not to make a mistake."
After working at the 4 position for most of preseason practice, Tyrese Tanner will start Saturday's game at the 3, where she played and led the team in scoring the past two seasons.
"She won't be there for long," Williams-Flournoy said. "A freshman would have to go up to the top of the press. I think right now it gives us much more of an advantage to put Ty back there where she's comfortable. She'll mix it up a little bit and play 4 also."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: