As the leader of a River Hill High’s undefeated basketball team that won the Maryland 3A title in 2006, LaKeisha Eaddy received offers to play for several schools.
When making her decision, the 5-6 point guard from Columbia, Md., said it was important that she go where she could best connect with the players and the coaches.
Eaddy found plenty of chemistry with the players at Temple during a recruiting visit.
And in coach Dawn Staley, one of the top point guards in women’s basketball history, Eaddy discovered the perfect mentor.
“I knew that if I wanted to learn anything about being a guard,” Eaddy said, “that she would be the one that I would have to learn from.”
Eaddy and senior Fatima Maddox will replace
Jennifer Owens and Khadija Bowens as the starting guards this season.
Though shorter, Staley said the rotation of Eaddy, Maddox and junior Ashley Morris brings more quickness to the backcourt.
“The combination of [Eaddy and Maddox] allows us to do a lot of things defensively,” Staley said. “Offensively, they just have to play at the speed that they can be successful at and sometimes that’s going to be 80 percent instead of 100 percent.”
Until the Owls’ backcourt finds the right offensive tempo, they will focus more on shutting down their opponents on defense, Maddox said.
“We need to contain,” Maddox said. “Because
we have all the help we need on the sides, so our big thing is keeping people out of the middle and also putting pressure on the point guard so they have trouble starting up their offense.”
Maddox flourished as the Owls’ sixth player last season. When Owens suffered a mid-season injury, Maddox filled in.
Now, the senior will take on the role of floor general for the entire season.
A “gym rat,” Maddox is “hungry” for success, Staley said.
“She knows she’s going to have to shoulder
a lot of responsibility and I think she’s ready for that,” Staley said.
“I told her, somewhat, that her future is dependent on the success of our team. She wants to play at the next level and in order for her to increase her chances of doing that, our team has to be successful.”
Staley has the guards mentally prepared for the challenge, Maddox said.
“The biggest thing that I’ve learned from her is that she demands that we think the game, rather than just playing it,” she said.
While Maddox sets the team’s pace, the Owls will slowly develop Eaddy, who won the starting job based on her defensive abilities, Staley said.
“Anytime you have a freshman you don’t know what you’re getting,” Staley said. “… Offensively, if she just stays solid and doesn’t try to do too much and let the game come to her, she’s going to be good for us.”
Eaddy said she understands her role.
“Basically, [Staley said that] on the court, I’m not a freshman anymore,” Eaddy said. “I have to play like I’m one of the starters. I have to lead the team and prove myself.”
Morris, junior Candice Borrows and freshman Kristie Watkins-Day will provide a spark off the bench.
Morris’ status is game-to-game because of disciplinary reasons that carried over from last season, Staley said.
“Ashley’s probably our best point guard, so to speak, in terms of just running the basketball team, being vocal and getting us into spots [on offense] where people are supposed to be,” Staley said.
Staley said she wants the 5-5 Morris to better utilize her size and quickness.
“She pounds me on spacing,” Morris said of Staley’s tutelage. “Proper spacing will help me use my speed effectively. It will help me get [more] passes and shots off.”
Despite their quickness, the guards, according to Morris, will restrain themselves from pushing the tempo on offense early in the season.
That speed will be used to disrupt opponents on the defensive end, she said.
“On offense we want to be a little bit more poised,” Morris said, “a little bit more under control because we don’t know if we can control our speed right now. We definitely have it, but it’s going to help us on the defensive end more for now.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at email@example.com.