Women's basketball using game-by-game captains to improve leadership

Women's basketball using game-by-game captains to improve leadership

As the Alabama women’s basketball team prepares to open its regular season, head coach Kristy Curry has made a key change from last season. The team is searching for its first NCAA Tournament berth in 19 years.

Rather than designating team captains for the entire season before it starts, Curry said the team will choose different captains each week because it has so many players worthy of the honor.

“We have six seniors, a very strong junior class that's experienced, a sophomore point guard [Jordan Lewis] who is supposed to be an extension of our coaching staff,” Curry said. “I think there are so many people on our team who are deserving of being a captain, so we’re going to do that week by week and give everyone an opportunity.”

The captains for each week are determined by a vote among all four coaches. This week’s captains are senior guard Meo Knight, senior forward Ashley Williams, junior guard Taylor Berry and senior guard Alana da Silva.

Curry said da Silva will likely start at point guard for Friday’s season opener in place of Lewis, who had the fifth-most assists in the SEC as a freshman last year but is currently sidelined due to an ankle injury.

Da Silva herself was not fully healthy for most of last season as she recovered from ACL surgery in April 2016. Williams and Knight said da Silva, now fully recovered, has earned more playing time this season, citing her tireless work ethic in practice and workouts.

"Alana has really improved,” Knight said. “She's been in the gym all preseason, probably the most out of the whole team. She's just been working hard and getting better, and it's showing now, as you saw in the exhibition game.”

The coaches make their selections based on their trust in individual players to lead by example and to consistently challenge their teammates to uphold a high standard. Vocality and energy are factors, Curry said, but it’s more about consistency of performance and character, whether it be during practice drills, in the locker room or on the court during a game.

“No one expects more than we do of ourselves,” Curry said. “From the moment we walked in here over 1200 days ago, [our goal] was to take this program back to the NCAA Tournament... I'm extremely proud of everyone who is, every day and in all areas of our program, just giving everything they have. When you put that "A" on, that's what it represents."

Williams and Knight each said the other deserves her title as captain, lauding each other’s increased presence as a vocal leader and strong work ethic, which show newer players what is expected of them.

"Ashley is just a hard worker every day," Knight said. "You can see her going hard in every drill that we do. She's more vocal as well, and she just sets a good example for the younger players."

With the team’s season stretching nearly five months last year – and even longer this year, if it qualifies for the NCAA Tournament – Curry said rotating captains will help keep the players more engaged later in the season.

“You certainly don't want to lose [anyone’s attention]; it's a long season, so we're trying to create that environment of committee-type leadership,” Curry said. “It's hopefully going to keep our team engaged and motivated and give them something to look forward to every week.”

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