AUBURN – The Auburn women's basketball team officially started its 2012-13 season Monday, holding the team's first practice in the Auburn Arena practice facility. NCAA rules permit women's basketball teams to conduct 30 practices beginning 40 days prior to the first game of the season.
"It felt good to get back out there, I thought we had some high energy and they went extremely hard," said first-year Auburn head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy. "They were really excited to get practice going and the energy they showed was truly refreshing. It lets me know that they understand how I want them to play and they are buying into it."
While Monday's practice was the first for the regular season, it was not Williams-Flournoy's first time on the court with the Tigers as she got 10 practices in this summer preparing for the team's trip to Australia.
With five new players and a new staff on board for the 2012-13 season, players and coaches alike saw value in the extra time over the summer.
"This summer, it was really good for the coaches to have the opportunity tell us their philosophy on defense and how it is most important," said senior Blanche Alverson. "So, we know on defense we have to be energetic because that is the style we are going to play. We are all starting to buy into it a little bit and we are still getting used to it."
With a base of knowledge already in place, Williams-Flournoy was excited about being able to jump in with a running start.
"It is great because now you can actually call out plays, they know what you are talking about, we can get into our defense, they understand our principles," said Williams-Flournoy. "So, right now we are in more of a review than really starting off new, it feels great."
With the new coaching staff comes a new mentality and style of play. Williams-Flournoy is known for a defense-first, fast-paced, high-pressure style, something that is requiring an adjustment on behalf of the players.
But, according to Alverson, one of three seniors on the squad, it has been helpful for veterans and newcomers alike to be going through the transition together.
"There has obviously been an adjustment period, but it has been good," said Alverson. "Our freshmen and newcomers are coming in and having to adjust just like the rest of us, we are all adjusting to this new style of play together. We all have each other to lean on and have each other's back when it gets tough."
Auburn returns seven letterwinners, including three starters, from last season's team that went 13-17. Junior Tyrese Tanner is the top returning scorer with 10.6 points per game last season. Other top scorers returning are sophomore Hasina Muhammad (9.5 ppg) and Alverson (9.1 ppg).
Joining the returners are newcomers Cabriana Capers (Bolingbrook, Ill.), Chadarryl Clay (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Julie King (St. Louis, Mo.), Cedricka Sweeting (Nassau, Bahamas) and Nicole Tanner (Birmingham, Ala.). All are freshmen except for King, who is entering her senior season at Auburn after playing four seasons on the soccer team.
The Tigers will open the season Nov. 9 against Maine at the Wolfpack Invitational in Raleigh, N.C. Auburn's home-opener will come six days later against Alabama State at 6 p.m., Nov. 15.
Season and tickets are still on sale with individual packages starting at $50 for reserved chairback seats. Auburn students are allowed in for free and discounts are available for groups of 20 or more. Auburn's home schedule this season features games against Hofstra, Temple, Samford, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Tennessee, LSU, Florida, Missouri, Mississippi State and in-state rival Alabama.