HPU women grow confident in new roles
HIGH POINT — Normally, one would think it would be a statement odd for a coach to make 13 games into the season.
“Everyone has identified their roles,” High Point University women’s coach DeUnna Hendrix said Wednesday by phone while getting ready to face Charleston Southern today at the Millis Center (game time, 7 p.m.). “We have people in the right places.”
But this hasn’t been a normal season for the first-year coach. She’s had to juggle her lineup after losing two starters.
Preseason All-Big South selection Erin Reynolds has been out since late November since suffering her second concussion in less than eight weeks. Highly touted freshman Tori Cook hasn’t played since Dec. 5 at Davidson because of rheumatoid arthritis.
Reynolds, who was the team’s top returning scorer, will not return and is no long listed on the team’s roster. Cook also is not expected back.
“Erin recently decided not to come back and to just concentrate on graduating in May,” Hendrix said. “She suffered two concussions close together and was worried about what might happen if she suffered a third.
“And Tori found it harder to play as the season progressed because of how physical Division I basketball is, and she and the doctor decided that it would be best that she take a break.”
To offset the losses, Tayler Tremblay moved over from shooting guard to replace Reynolds at point guard with Ashante Richard, while Lindsay Puckett and Kendra Wallace have been starting at the wings.
The Panthers are anchored by center Cheyenne Parker, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding, with Stacia Robertson and Jazmin Cromartie at forward.
The Panthers have coped well with the shuffling, going 6-3 since Reynolds played what would be her last game and are 3-1 without Cook. They are coming off a road win at UNC Asheville that evened their Big South record at 1-1.
HPU has offset the loss of Reynolds’ offense by committee with Robertson and Trembly averaging 9 points per game and Puckett averaging 8.
“We are doing the same stuff on offense that we’ve done since the start of the season,” Hendrix said. “I think the girls are taking pride in that. We haven’t changed a thing.”
With the losses of Reynolds and Cook, the Panthers are down to 10 players.
“That makes depth a bit of an issue, but that is what timeouts are for,” Hendrix said. “But we do play all 10 players in our rotation. We don’t limit it to seven or eight players as some teams do.”
Charleston Southern (5-5, 0-1 Big South) features four of their top six scorers from last season, topped by Lakeitha Alston (14.3 points per game) and Erin Bratcher (12.0).
“They like to spread the floor and run a motion offense, so we must play great defense for 30 seconds every time they have the ball,” Hendrix said. “But I don’t think they can run us and they seem to have trouble boxing out, so we need to run and rebound.”