Bowie St. women's basketball loud, clear Demonstrative coach has team on 15-1 roll

January 23, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Last season, Ed Davis' hoarse voice urged the Bowie State women's basketball team to 29 wins and a near-appearance in the round of eight of the NCAA Division II tournament.

With Davis' continuous barking as the soundtrack, the Bulldogs are again executing a winning script, victorious in 15 of their first 16 games going into their game at 7 tonight at the University of District of Columbia.

"I yelled way too much," Davis said Tuesday night, exhausted after his team extended its home winning streak to 24 games with a 60-48 win over previously undefeated Virginia Union. His sideline hysterics almost seem necessary for this team, neither as polished nor as overpowering as the team that lost, 74-68, in last year's round of 16 to Kennesaw (Ga.) State, but one that hopes to go further.

"We knew we could beat Kennesaw," senior forward Tarsha Wilson said. "Our start this season has a lot to do with a lot of players knowing that we could have gone further last season, so we're really stepping it up a little bit more than we were last year."

Players and coaches both say the game against Virginia Union was typical of their wins this season: Stellar defense nearly wasted by what has been an erratic offense. The Bulldogs waited until six minutes into the game before giving up a field goal and forced Virginia Union to shoot 18.2 percent from the field in the first half.

Recipe for a blowout? Nope, Bowie could only manage a six-point lead at the half, and struggled for most of the second half before pulling away in the final minutes.

"The only difference is that we were able to blow out teams last year," said senior guard Rebecca Rolle, acknowledging the loss of last year's stars, including Brandey Lemons and Kim McCall, both of whom finished their careers among the school's all-time leading scorers. "We'd be able to do that this year, but we don't finish shots as well as we did last year."

In all, the Bulldogs had to replace three starters, the toughest being Lemons, Bowie's all-time leading scorer. Her outside shooting kept the inside open for 6-foot-5 junior Rashida Brooks, who averaged 13.8 points last season and now leads the team with a 13.7-point average.

"She [Lemons] was just a pure shooter," Rolle said. "Now, we have to work much harder for our shots. But while we're not blowing teams out, all that counts is the W."

Inside, the burden belongs to Brooks and senior Tarsha Wilson, who averages 12.5 points. Though guards Beverly Winstead (10.9 ppg) and Brenonda Jackson (8.9 ppg) contribute, the Bulldogs attempt four three-pointers a game, making it a tenable option for defenses to collapse on Brooks and Wilson, as they did for much of Tuesday night's game.

XTC "I'm taking it day by day," Brooks said of her new role. "It's rough trying to get my game off, but my coaches and teammates are helping me out, trying to tell me what I need to step up. I can't score all that much [when the defenses collapse], but sometimes I have to free up before they collapse."

As with the rest of its games, Bowie State managed to win with a frenzied, often physical brand of defense.

According to the players, defense is the key to playing time under Davis, 44, a part-time coach who teaches physical education at Quince Orchard High School in Prince George's County.

"You have to play defense," Wilson said. "If you're on the court and you're not playing defense, no matter how good you are on offense, you're not going to continue to be on the court. That's one of the main goals."

So while the Bulldogs gave up 32 turnovers -- often a catalyst for an opponent's offensive totals -- against a team averaging nearly 80 points per game, they took a 37 percent chunk out of that average.

Such efforts will be necessary if this team hopes to advance to the elite eight of the NCAA Division II tournament, to be held this season in Pine Bluff, Ark.

"We don't have the firepower that we did last year on the perimeter," said Davis, who is in his sixth season. "We knew that going into the season. We know we're trying to hold teams to 50-55 points and try to stay within the confines of what we do well."

Tirades about defense and other areas of the game are part of the package when it comes to Davis, who has been known to melt paint even when his team is up by a healthy margin. It's going to happen, and he says his players know -- or should know -- the method to his madness.

"They know the practice side and the game side," Davis said. "They know that a lot of the intensity is motivational."

Senior forward Anita Creek, whose mother, Arlene, coached Bowie State for 17 seasons, said she understands Davis a lot better than she did when she arrived at the school.

"I appreciate him now that I'm a senior, and I understand the things he sees now," Creek said. "I see a lot of what he says and does. He tells us he's not going to tell us anything wrong, and he doesn't."

Creek said a key to the Bulldogs' fate could be their four freshmen, who combine for 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. She says that they haven't grasped the importance of the mission, which is reaching Pine Bluff.

Nothing was more evident of this than when a freshman, in a mental error, cost Bowie a technical foul because she was wearing jewelry when the scorer checked her into the game.

"They don't understand how important it is," Creek said. "It hasn't clicked in yet."

Count on Davis to be sure it does.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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