Last season, UB women’s basketball surprised almost everyone with their MAC championship victory. Many had casted them off and didn’t even expect them to be in the tournament.
This season, the Bulls’ success won’t be a surprise; it will be the norm.
Under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack, the Bulls are poised to have the best season in program history, because the team has been installed with an A-level work ethic and immense passion. Jack has gone to far lengths to try and make every player on her team a relentless workhorse.
The Bulls style of play, specifically on the defensive end, requires that.
Jack’s team plays at an extremely fast pace, something less prepared opponents will have trouble matching. Defensively, the team legitimately has the opportunity to hold almost every team in the MAC to 40 points, which is where Jack has set her goal for her team. In the opening game against UMass, they never let up and held them to just 45 points and 17 shots made.
Jack’s emphasis on defense comes from her trust in her players. She knows they will be able to win games even when the offense is off. That is why it’s hard to picture the Bulls losing more than 10 games this year.
The team is tough, physical and focused. One practice will show you how coach Jack is trying to make Basketball assassins. She wants all her players to be elite in their roles and she often physically demonstrates how she wants it done.
But is a player isn’t up to standard, Jack will let them know as blunt as possible.
Jack is especially passionate if she sees mistakes. She doesn’t chew them out, she “clearly” lets them know exactly what she sees wrong.
It’s clear her coaching has put the Bulls’ talent at an all-time high.
Senior point guard Joanna Smith is looking to have another phenomenal season. She is deadly with her shooting and in practice, it seems like every three she throws up goes in.
Every time I watch a women’s basketball practice, I feel like I could run a marathon. Jack’s passion and energy is infectious throughout the gym. All her players match her passion, especially sophomore point guard Stephanie Reid.
Reid is the connection between Jack and the rest of the team. Jack calls her the general. She is the play caller who keeps the rest of team in line. Jack’s trust in Reid is well-placed; Reid has a calmness to her on the court.
That calmness can be found in multiple players on the Bulls and that is a scary threat. If the Bulls never lose composure, they will be consistent, even on the road.
Jack applauds players who do not get upset with themselves and instead look to brush off mistakes. It all plays into her message of staying humble. It helps keep the players hungry and their egos at bay. Jack has created a sense of players representing something bigger than themselves.
Nothing helps feed an ego more than winning and it looks like the Bulls will be doing a lot of winning this season. I have the feeling that as long as Jack is in charge, those problems won’t surface.
Thomas Zafonte is a sports staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas Zafonte is a senior English major. He is a UB sports fan and enjoys traveling around Buffalo.