Oct. 24, 2001
ATLANTA — With the opening of the 2001-02 season rapidly approaching, the Georgia Tech women’s basketball team is in its second week of practice for its first exhibition contest on Nov. 2. Thus far, Yellow Jacket head coach Agnus Berenato has been pleased with what she has seen in her team, especially with the improvement shown by Tech’s forwards and post players.
“Practices have been terrific for us so far,” said Berenato. “We’re working very hard, and I think we’re pushing the team’s mental and physical limits farther than we have before. I really like this team and I like the chemistry that has already developed. They are really starting to take a responsibility and an ownership in what they are doing, which is something that is very important to our coaching staff.”
This year’s Tech roster is filled with veterans, as the Yellow Jackets welcome back nine of ten letterwinners from a year ago, including four starters. Heading up the group of returnees is senior guard Milli Martinez, who was second on the team a year ago with 13.2 points per game and 7.0 rebounds per contest from her back court position. With Martinez and junior point guard Nina B?rlin anchoring the perimiter, the Yellow Jackets front line play will get a major boost with the return of forward Regina Tate, who sat out last year with a stress fracture in her leg. Also back up front will be 6-4, junior center Sonja Mallory, who averaged 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds a year ago.
“I think the biggest thing that I’ve seen early on this year has been the improvement in our number three through five players,” said Berenato. “You can already see the difference in strength and conditioning of Sonja, Regina and Tamika Boatner from the work they did over the summer. The improvement in Sonja has been wonderful and we expect her to have a great year for us. Also in the preseason, we’ve realized just how much we missed Regina and her ability to rebound and defend last year. Probably the biggest change for us has been to move Tamika from the post to the three spot and have her play facing the basket. She has good size for a player at the three as she’s 6-2, and she will create matchup problems for our opponents with her strong shooting stroke and rebounding ability.”
The biggest change for the Yellow Jackets this year in pre-season practice has been the addition of three new coaches to the staff for the new season in MaChelle Joseph, Jeffrey Williams and Kisha Ford. While Berenato points out that the plays have not changed a great deal, the approach is much different this year.
“For our team this year it hasn’t been that the X’s and O’s have been that different in practice, but it has been the approach of our coaching staff that has changed,” said Berenato. “It’s different because now we have four teachers of the game that all have an active role in practices. I think that the team has really responded well to that.”
The Yellow Jackets showed some good things on Sunday, October 21, with their first full intra-squad scimmage of the year. Tate, who recorded team highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds, led Tech and the Blue team to a 63-61 overtime win. Mallory joined the 20-point club as well, netting an even 20 in the game for the Gold team. Other top performers included sophomore Fallon Stokes, who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 boards, along with junior Alex Stewart, who had 16 points, six of which came in a perfect 6-6 performance at the free-throw line.
Berenato and the rest of the Yellow Jackets will get a first-hand look at how they are progressing on Nov. 2, when they host the Basketball Travelers at 5 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Tech will then finish its exhibition slate by facing SE Pro-Am on Nov. 10 at 2 p.m., before opening the regular season on Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m., against Kansas State.
After it’s opening exhibition game on Nov. 2, the Tech women’s basketball team will appear in conjunction with the men’s team on Saturday, Nov. 3, at the annual Georgia Tech Hoopfest from 1-3 p.m. at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Admission is free, but donation for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta will be accepted.
The program includes prized for shooting and dunking contests and the men’s and women’s teams will each scrimmage for 20 minutes.
Nov. 2 Exhibition vs. Basketball Travelers 5 p.m. Nov. 3 Georgia Tech Hoopfest 1-3 p.m. Nov. 10 Exhibition vs. SE Pro-Am 2 p.m. Nov. 16 Regular-season opener vs. Kansas State 5:30 p.m. All events at Alexander Memorial Coliseum at McDonald’s Center.