Eastside girls basketball coach Gladys King didn’t mince words with her Lady Eagles squad after Friday night’s 70-34 loss at Luella.
The setback dropped Eastside to 1-8 this season, with its lone win coming back on December 9 against a winless Druid Hills team.
King said the reason for her slight departure from a usually calm and patient demeanor has nothing to do with being harsh, but everything to do with expectations — the kind that she says shouldn’t be unreasonable.
“I know we’re young, but we’ve played nine games,” she said. “And if you’ve played nine games by now, you’d think the jitters should be out the window. I’m not asking them to be LeBron James or any of these professional players you see out here. I’m asking them to do the small things that we ask every day and to do them the correct way as we teach them. Not the way they want to do it, or the way people in the stands are telling them to do it. That’s street ball, and it’s not going to work.”
Eastside’s loss to Luella was the sixth loss by double figures, and the fifth by more than 30 points. King acknowledges the youth — three freshmen have been regulars in the starting line up — and she understands the growing pains.
She can’t even ignore the fact that one of those freshmen, Alysse Dobbs, has been one of the consistent bright spots so far this season. Dobbs had 10 points in Friday’s loss to Luella, and is one of King’s players who seems unafraid to have the ball in her hands.
And there are other flashes, but King said it’s not nearly enough for them to be the kind of team she believes they can be.
“We cannot play selfish basketball,” King said. “We can’t think it’s a one man show. We’ve gotta make sure that we’re playing team ball. In the last minute of the game, we had nine turnovers because we don’t know our personnel even though we preach it every day in practice. We’ve worked on passes, working the ball around, layups, jump shots. But when you get in a game and act like it’s a foreign language to you, that’s frustrating.”
King also drew a distinct difference between the effort that she sees her team playing with and the next level hustle she feels is lacking. It will take the latter, King said, for her girls to get over the hump and start playing better basketball.
“We do show effort,” King said. “We can see that. But I still feel like we should get down and get balls on the floor. We’re down 10, 20, 30 points, that means that the other team shouldn’t be out hustling us, because they’re not down. Bust your butt. Get after the ball. Basketball is a contact game. You’re going to get some bumps and bruises, but if you want the ball, grab it. Go out and take what you want.”
King’s squad will have a few days to go back to work and practice before going on a four game road stretch, starting at Cedar Shoals Tuesday, then at Morgan County for the SweetSouth Christmas Tournament on December 28.
The practices and game competition are just more opportunities, King says, for her girls to get better, and for her to mix and match her personnel to try and get the right chemistry on the court.
“Well, I think we need to start moving some people around, maybe,” she said. “I feel like I may have some people in the lineup now who are complacent and think they’re not gonna be moved. But they can be moved. We’re young anyway. Let’s move them out and put people in who do what I ask to do.
“It wouldn’t hurt to put more people on the floor who don’t play as much to see what they can do. And then we’ll continue with the reps we’re doing, because we know it works. You’ve just gotta continue doing it at 100 percent, not 30 or 70 percent if we’re going to be successful.”