By Mac Moore
It’s fall. The leaves have changed color and started falling from the trees, the weather has gotten a bit colder, and the Lady Cavs basketball team is preparing to duplicate the 30 win campaign from the previous season.
The team finished 30-2 during the 2012-2013 campaign, the fourth straight season they have done so. If the team completes that feat this season coach Ben Conrad will own the longest consecutive streak for 30 win seasons in conference history. Conrad is less focused on that streak and more focused on improving the team on a daily basis.
“Like every year, I just want our kids to max out their potential,” said Conrad. “Gain an understanding of the value of doing things the right way and working hard each and every day. Stay process oriented and worry about the product when it’s all done. We do those things and this team will have success.”
With junior college athletics, the team constantly faces change as the athletes only spend two years here. Conrad has handled those challenges remarkably well, earning a 143-28 record during his five seasons with the Cavaliers.
“Recruiting talent is key, but then getting kids that will buy into our culture, really buy into our approach,” Conrad said. “I call it the ‘Johnson Way’, and that refers to a set of standards we have for our team on and off the court.”
The “Johnson way” has continued to produce regular season success for the Lady Cavs, but hasn’t earned the team the coveted national championship since 2001. Last year’s remarkable season was cut short of the ultimate goal in a heartbreaking loss to Highland in the regional VI tournament. The game ended after a last second bank shot by Highland that gave them a 76-75 win.
“It’s always good to have experience,” sophomore guard said Sameia Kendall. “We know what to expect this year. We know what it’s like to lose so we don’t want to do it again.”
Kendall believes that experience will give this team added determination for this season.
“It puts a chip on our shoulder,” Kendall said. “That hurt us a lot so we want to get back there and fix it. We want to make it to nationals.”
While the national tournament is a goal for the team every season, this squad understands that the post-season is aptly named, it only comes in “post” of the regular season. The team knows that the squad practicing today is not the squad that is ready for that time of the year, yet.
“Concentration is definitely one of our obstacles,” sophomore forward Kariel Hutt said. “We have to improve that first.”
Hutt said that the team has the physicality and if the returning players come through, this squad will be able to build off of last year’s successes. Conrad believes this team just needs to understand how critical each day is when it comes to improving. If they do so, this team has the roster needed to make a deep postseason run.
“We’ve got some depth at all spots,” Conrad said. “It’s the deepest team I’ve had here at JCCC.”
Contact Mac Moore, sports editor, at email@example.com.