By Daniel Whitehead
BUENA VISTA, Va.—The 2013-14 Southern Virginia University women's basketball team features a young squad, but expectations remain the same that the girls compete to the best of their ability and make a good representation of themselves and the university as they embark on their first season in the Capital Athletic Conference.
Coach Michael Harmon shares his outlook for this year's group:
Sophomore Crystal Cleveland is our lone returning player with significant experience on the court. What do you expect from her leadership this season?
Harmon: I'm looking for continued progress from her as she continues to mature in the system and lead this team. There are a lot of ups and downs to each season, so she'll need to convey that to the freshmen and the newer members of the team.
What do you expect from the guard position?
Harmon: They need to learn to see the floor more than they did in high school and understand that it's a bigger, faster, stronger game. It's a growing and maturation process. There's a careful balance between helping them to not be too up on themselves but also not to be too down on themselves. You have to pick up where you leave and go with it. When things go wrong, you learn from your mistakes and move forward.
What is your outlook for the forward and center positions?
Harmon: Cleveland and Shannon Romito will lead us in this area. They've both been in the system and have more experience than all the others. Just being one year older in the system will benefit the team having those two with game experience. I look to them to help the freshmen discover the harsh reality of playing basketball at the college level.
We have a talented group of incoming freshmen. What are you hoping from them this season?
Harmon: They have a lot of athleticism. They simply need to contain their abilities and athleticism within a team setting. My first hope is that they learn to play with each other and off of each other. They need time to learn each other's nuances, what are their likes and dislikes, where they like the ball passed to them, where they like to shoot from. It takes time to be able to read each other and then use their athleticism to enhance that ability.
The Capital Athletic Conference features some of the top NCAA Division III schools in the country. What do you expect before and during the conference season?
Harmon: It's important we learn how to play with each other before the conference season begins. We've scheduled opponents to prepare us for conference that are at the same level we are. We'll experience Top 25 schools when we hit conference season. It's a coin flip of who is going to execute the best. They will be good games to gauge where we are and what we need to execute at a better level.
In conference, Christopher Newport, Marymount, York, Mary Washington and Salisbury are going to be very good. Newport and Marymount are ranked in the Top 10 in the country, and York is just outside the Top 25. It's a very well-established basketball conference. It will be an eye-opening experience for our team, especially the freshmen. You only get better by playing teams that will push you to get better.