• June 21, 2024

Women’s Basketball Begins Summer Workouts

Women’s Basketball Begins Summer Workouts

RIO GRANDE VALLEY – There was a noticeable energy buzzing through the UTRGV Fieldhouse as The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros women’s basketball team began its summer workout schedule Tuesday.

With an even mix of eight returners and eight newcomers making up the 2024-25 roster, an important part of Tuesday’s workout was seeing how the student-athletes mesh on the court. The session was packed with active, fast-paced drills meant to test fitness, ball control, court vision, and of course, the ability to move with a team. The Vaqueros responded with good tempo and a high energy level that excited both players and coaches.

“It was awesome. We had great energy today,” women’s basketball head coach Lane Lord said. “We didn’t do anything half court today. We wanted to see everybody get up and down, so we did a lot of full court drills, shooting drills, got to see what kind of shape we’re in. It was a really beneficial day for us.”

After injuries changed the complexion of last season, the coaching staff is taking a proactive approach to injury prevention this year. Every summer workout will start with 30 minutes of work tailored by athletic trainer LaNiece Brown and strength & conditioning coach Dan Park to get the Vaqueros ready for attack practice.

The next eight weeks will heavily revolve around improving offensive efficiency. UTRGV had a -11.4 scoring margin last season as it shot 34% from the field and 27% from three-point range. Lord brought in a slew of shooters in the signing class and returns three of the five top scorers from 2023-24, so he expects this squad to shoot and score at a higher clip. The Vaqueros will emphasize offense this summer to capitalize on the talent in the gym.

“We really want to improve offensively. We have to be more efficient. Our focus all summer is going to be offense. Defensively we’ll sprinkle a little bit in over these eight weeks but it’s really going to be an offensive summer. Really trying to take care of the basketball, make the right reads, make the right plays and take open shots. We’ll do a lot of skill work, a lot of individual work, and make sure we’re ready for September when we start for real,” Lord said.

As the Vaqueros ran through ball handling, passing and shooting drills Tuesday, a few newcomers made strong first impressions. Graduate student forward Chynell Mitchell, a transfer from Alabama A&M, was praised for the positivity and effort she brought to the gym. Sophomore guard Madison Huhn, a transfer from Miami (OH), showcased her knowledge of the game. The three freshmen in action all impressed with their hustle and tenacity, and Sophie Zufelt in particular lit up the scoreboard during a three-point shooting drill.

“We really have some talented newcomers that we’re excited about,” Lord said. “Chynell Mitchell really showed a lot of athleticism today, but not only that, just her energy, you could tell she’s a fifth-year player. She’s experienced and I really like the way she carries herself with her teammates and the way she plays the game. Madi Huhn really understand the game, coaches kid, and you can see her fundamentals and what she brings to the table. And, boy, I’m really impressed with our freshmen. We’re excited. It was a whole different vibe.”

The willingness to work and the 100% effort from each student-athlete created a fun environment as the Vaqueros set the tone for their summer. Lord credited the returners for setting that standard and getting a jump on team chemistry by hanging out with and getting to know the new pieces ahead of the first practice.

The Vaqueros will continue to learn each other and learn themselves throughout the summer workouts. They’re determined to keep the energy high and the vibes positive as they set the foundation for a turnaround season.

“Our returners did a great job leading. We can talk a lot about the freshmen and the newcomers, but our returners are going to give us a lot of leadership this year and I was proud of them today,” Lord said. “Tierra Trotter was a really good player for us today. She’s a veteran player, senior point guard. She got a lot of experience starting last year and I thought her leadership today was really good. Ja’Shelle Johnson had a really good day as well. The summer’s all about learning each other’s personalities and learning who’s going to be our leaders and today was that first step. It was neat to see some of the new kids step up as well as our returners.”

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