NICEVILLE/PANAMA CITY, FL (WJHG/WECP) For area juco basketball teams the 2019-2020 season has officially begun, at least in terms of fall workouts.
All the area juco teams already doing work in the late summer, into September. This week though marks the official start to fall practices. That includes the Lady Raiders of Northwest Florida.
Coach Bart Walker losing the likes of Trasi, Gayle, Mayo and others...in fact his top five scorers from a year ago. Heavy turnover in juco ball is a fact of life, but coach Walker has just one player returning from last year's squad that made it to state title game and the national quarterfinals. 12 new faces on hand.
And thought most of the players have been working together for several weeks, there's still a lot of learning that needs to take place. Part of that process heading up to Albany State for a jamboree this weekend.
"Well I think the most important thing that we're gonna get out of this weekend is we're gonna get to beat somebody else up." coach Walker says. "I mean we've been going at it, we had 9 here for the summer, then we've been in about five and a half weeks of preseason. I think they're ready to play somebody else, and I need to see them play somebody else just to see how far we've come. Sometimes you get in a rut. So I think this will be benefical to see how we're executing and how our team's moving and those kinds of things."
Meanwhile over at Gulf Coast head coach Roonie Scovel and her Lady Commodores close to wrapping up week one of practice.
Nothing much for this group of players to improve on, last year's team shared the conference title, won the state and national championships. Again that an indicator of how good the league is...
Not much experience returning for Roonie, four of five starters have moved on, just lone starter returning, number 42, Naomi Mbandu, the 6-2 post player from France.
"And she didn't even start every game last year, so we've got a lot of newcomers this season." coach Scovel says. "So we're probably gonna be a little bit slower as to who's gonna be your starting point, or two or three. That's still kind of work in progress. You know I think the kind of thing we emphasize who starts, but who's gonna be in there at crunch time. So we're definitely a lot of newcomers, a work in progress. And who's gonna be able to perform, and perform under pressure."
Gulf Coast headed to the same jamboree in Albany that Northwest is headed to this weekend. Their opener set for November first.