The last five years have been tough on the Liberty girls basketball program.
Three wins over that span have led to fewer players coming out for basketball. A new day appears to be on the horizon though.
After fielding rosters of eight players at most and even having to abort the 2019-20 season halfway through due to a lack of players, Liberty head coach Denise Arline finds herself in a new situation.
“Last year we only had seven players and two were on academic probation so for the first few games we had five playing the entire game,” Arline said. “I think we have 20 this year and I don’t know what to do with myself having so many players and good players and versatile players. I have several that can play different positions so it’s good to have so many players.”
The numbers aren’t the only pleasant surprise for Arline and Co. This group also comes in with a different mentality.
“They are very talented,” Arline said. “I can’t wait to see what they actually do on the court. They’re aggressive and in the past we’ve had kids that are not as aggressive as they should be. These girls appear to be very aggressive but in a positive way. I like that.”
That aggressive mentality has already translated in practices for the Raiders. While they lack height, Arline likes what she’s seen in their effort and attentiveness.
“In general we don’t have many tall players,” Arline said. “We practiced over two weeks and there’s no drama at all. They try whatever. If I say we’re going to run so many laps, they don’t complain, they just do it. They’re not as tall and they’re young so those are probably the two obstacles we have to overcome.”
That cohesiveness and lack of drama is something Arline has enjoyed. The group appears to play well together, something that’s stuck out.
“They work as a team and that’s the biggest thing,” Arline said. “Several of them, it’s like they can read the other player’s mind. They know where to go and where to be there and I think that’s a very big thing.”
Still, with a team largely composed of incoming freshmen there’s likely to be a learning curve and adjustment period.
“They are young, so they’re going to have to adjust to high school,” Arline said. “They’re adjusting pretty well. We’re probably not as fast as we need to be right now, but they’re already getting faster. I’m very happy with what I’ve seen so far.”
Several of the underclassmen, and even a senior have stood out specifically for Arline. She’s hoping that translates into a successful season that allows to program to build and move forward.
“We have Michaela Swann and she’s quick and versatile,” Arline said. “She goes hard. She’s going to be a good one and Kady Jarrell. She’s going to be a senior this year and she didn’t play her 10th grade year but she’s played the rest of the years for me. She has a good three-point shot so she’s going to be good with that. Ashley Walker is tiny but she’s very scrappy. She’ll probably be a point guard for us. Some of the newer players, the freshmen are Chloe McGhee. She’s going to be very versatile and play several positions. Alaina Cline is another one that’s going to be one to watch out for. Kirsten Miller and Brooklyn Brown will be positives as well. Every one of them have something positive to offer to the team.”
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