Myers Park girls basketball coach Barbara Nelson said in the past two years, the Mustangs may have been too good for their own good.
The Mustangs haven’t lost a regular-season game in two years, and both years achieved national rankings, but Myers Park has not gotten to the state championship game yet.
“Last year, our practices left a lot to be desired,” said Nelson, whose team begins the 2013-14 season in a familiar place – No. 1 in the Observer’s Sweet 16 girls basketball poll.
“But if you’re not suffering repercussions of losses,” she continued, “it’s really hard to convince kids that they’re not good enough. I think they’re starting to put two and two together, understanding that their playing time for games is so short and that practice is 10 times more important. That will determine what happens in the game.”
The Mustangs return four starters, including two players ranked among the nation’s top 60 in the junior class by ESPN: guard Aliyah Mazyck and forward Rydeiah Rogers.
Rogers was Southwestern 4A conference player of the year as a sophomore. Nelson said both players are getting heavy recruiting attention from SEC, ACC and Big 10 schools.
With talent like that, Myers Park has big goals, Nelson said, but winning the last game isn’t the only thing.
“Our theme this year is ‘Chasing A Dream,’” she said. “Our dream is to be the best we can be, and that’s certainly to win Myers Park’s first state championship for women’s basketball, but that’s not the only part. We want to become better people, too.”
Nelson said she likes the direction her team is heading in, and wants the Mustangs to simply enjoy the season.
“It’s not state championship or bust for us,” she said. “There are so many variables I can’t control. I can’t control somebody getting hurt or how good other teams are. In Winston-Salem and Raleigh, they have open enrollment. I don’t know who transferred or how good they are. I mean, we saw Baylor get beat in (last season’s NCAA women’s tournament). Any given night, anybody can get beat. So I would never say it’s something or bust.
“It’s like having a cake. The icing is the wins and the losses, and maybe the crowning piece is the state championship. But you can still get the cake and the icing and the decorations without it.”
Wertz: 704-612-9716; Twitter: @langstonwertzjr
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