It’s been a tough season for first year Head Coach Tracy Sanders and the Southern Utah Women’s Basketball team. While the wins haven’t been prevalent, hustle plays and newfound intensity have been.
There was a moment that symbolically represents the new culture that Sanders is implementing. It comes in the form of this defensive scramble and layup in SUU’s win against Montana on March 2.
Team work makes the Dream work #hustleplay 💪 pic.twitter.com/vjbk4QTH2T
— SUU W. Basketball 🏀 (@SUUWBasketball) March 2, 2019
While SUU has been outclassed a few times this season, they’ve never been outworked. They give their all on defense and are always chasing down loose balls. It’s thankless work, but changing the mentality is step one in the rebuild.
The play begins with a nice steal and impressive save by Bre Reid. She manages to stay in bounds and smack the ball back into play before landing. Then the madness begins.
Kiana Thomas dives head first into the scrum and climbs over a Montana defender to scramble to the ball. This wasn’t your traditional 50/50 ball. The Montana player had a step advantage, but Thomas just wanted it more. She collects the ball and calmly passes to Reid who wisely didn’t give up on the play after her save.
Watch the clip again and pay special attention to Harley Hansen. Before Thomas even has possession of the ball, Hansen is making her run toward the other end of the court. This shows impressive recognition from Hansen but also wholehearted trust in her teammates. She knows that Thomas is going to get on the end of the loose ball, so she leaks out for the open layup.
As Reid takes the pass, the entire stadium knows what to do next, and Becca Cardenas helps Reid with a helpful point downcourt. Reid puts the pass on the money, Hansen finishes and SUU takes a 12 point lead. They carried that lead to a 71-56 win for their first victory in a month.
This clip beautifully represents one of Sanders’ ground rules for the team. She wants the team to play the same way whether they’re winning or losing. Plays like these start to become habits, and easy buckets win games.
Look at how excited the bench is when Hansen scores. They’re jumping up and down and screaming in support for their team. Do you think that prospective recruits will want to be a part of such a united team?
So the SUU Women’s Basketball team takes home this week’s edition of Play of the Week. This play stands as a glimmer of hope for the future because it would appear that what Coach Sanders is preaching is hitting home. If the players continue to buy in, then SUU is looking at a big turnaround.