AD­JUST­MENT BUREAU

Bagby seeks to bring sta­bil­ity to Wolves

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

THORN­BURY >> The new women’s bas­ket­ball coach at Cheyney, Tammy Bagby, spent most of her 22-year ca­reer in the south. But she did have a brief coach­ing stint at Mor­gan State in Bal­ti­more, which pre­pared her for the up­com­ing win­ter weather.

“This job must be a bless­ing be­cause the weather has been awe­some so far,” Bagby said. “I was ready to put my parka, boots and a ski hat on right away.

“At Mor­gan State in 2002, I ex­pe­ri­enced a bliz­zard, and at that time I had a lit­tle Mazda. At first I couldn’t even see my car un­der­neath the snow. So as soon as it cleared, I got me an SUV, and I’ve been driv­ing one ever since.”

Truth be told, Bagby is go­ing to have to do a lot of ad­just­ing this win­ter, and the weather is just the be­gin­ning. She is tak­ing over a pro­gram that has a glo­ri­ous past, but has strug­gled might­ily for the last quar­ter cen­tury. In fact, the Wolves have logged 26 straight los­ing sea­sons.

“It’s ob­vi­ously go­ing to take some time,” said Bagby, who was pre­vi­ously an as­sis­tant at Jackson State (Miss.). “But we will be com­pet­i­tive and ev­ery team we play will know that it’s not the Cheyney of the re­cent past. We want to bring back the his-

of Cheyney when it was win­ning and go­ing to fi­nal fours.”

It may be dif­fi­cult to be­lieve, but Cheney was a na­tional power 35 years ago, with NCAA Fi­nal Four ap­pear­ances in 1982 and 1984. Things have bot­tomed out, how­ever, in the last six sea­sons as the Wolves have a 20-134 record (.129 win­ning per­cent­age) and fin­ished dead last four times in the PSAC East stand­ings. Bagby is the third head coach of the pro­gram since 2013.

“Any­time you come into some­thing new, it’s go­ing to be a chal­lenge,” Bagby ac­knowl­edged. “But the de­sire is there. Now it’s about get­ting play­ers in here, hav­ing a pos­i­tive en­ergy around the pro­gram, and we’ll work to­gether with the ad­min­is­tra­tion be­cause we will win to­gether.”

Even though this is Bagby’s first head coach­ing po­si­tion, her re­sume ex­tends from high school to pro­fes­sional bas­ket­ball, and in­cludes stops at four col­lege pro­grams and a three­year stint in Europe. One of her men­tors is Nai­smith Hall of Famer Nolan Richard­son.

“She was my as­sis­tant coach for the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock,” Richard­son said. “Her work ethic was im­pec­ca­ble and she did what­ever it took to get the job done. Many coaches only un­der­stand X’s and O’s, but her in-depth knowl­edge of all things bas­ket­ball never ceases to amaze me.”

Richard­son is renowned for his in­tense pres­sure de­fense nick­named ‘40 min­utes of hell,’ and his de­fense­first phi­los­o­phy is some­thing that Bagby will em­ploy.

“We are go­ing to do what­ever it takes de­fen­sively to beat our op­po­nent,” she said. “But I am not a stick­ler for one de­fen­sive style.

“My mind­set is all about de­fense. We can have an off-night shoot­ing, but if we have some de­fen­sive stop­pers, we will be in ev­ery sin­gle game.”

A self-de­scribed ‘bas­ket­ball junkie,’ Bagby de­clined to talk about in­di­vid­ual play­ers ex­pected to con­trib­ute this sea­son “be­cause ev­ery­body has a chance to rise to the oc­ca­sion.

“We have a group of com­pet­i­tive young ladies and right now they are try­ing to un­der­stand my sys­tem and they are do­ing what I have asked of them,” she added.

Gone from last sea­son’s 5-20 squad is Kyra Hines-Allen, a two-time All-PSAC se­lec­tion, who led the team in points and re­bounds, and was a 1,000-point scorer for her ca­reer. Three-year starter Aerie DeJe­sus is also on that list.

The top re­turner is 5-foot-4 se­nior guard Am­ber Gen­wright, who scored 10.5 points per game and led the team in as­sists (57). Part­time starters TaKayla El­lis (5-6 ju­nior guard), Adriene Small (6-2 se­nior for­ward) and Mar­lon Her­ring (5-9 sopho­more for­ward) are also back in the fold.

An­other in­trigu­ing prospect is Taschell Phillips. The 5-8 se­nior guard misses all of last sea­son with the knee in­jury.

“She is still work­ing with the ath­letic trainer,” Bagby said. “Her fo­cus is to get 100 per­cent healthy. When the trainer says she can give 110 per­cent, and she knows that she can give her all, we will play her.”

Ac­cord­ing to Bagby, she’s been promised up­grades in the crum­bling fa­cil­i­ties at Cheyney. But an over­all lack of re­sources has been a ma­jor de­ter­rence for all ath­letic pro­grams at CU for many years.

“We don’t look at what we don’t have, but rather what we do,” Bagby said. “And what­ever else we need we will get cre­ative and get it done. Re­sources are go­ing to be a prob­lem at any school, but we are go­ing to come to­gether as an en­tire ath­letic depart­ment and make sure we will have what we need to get it done.

“I can only start by build­ing re­la­tion­ships on cam­pus first, and then when I re­cruit to bring in qual­ity young ladies be­cause of the re­la­tion­ships I’ve build with high schools and ju­nior col­leges. I also want to bond and build a con­sis­tent con­nec­tion with the alumni. If I do those things, it will start to change.”

The Wolves open the sea­son on Nov. 11th at Di­vi­sion I Mary­land-East­ern Shore.

“I be­lieve I am ready to take on this chal­lenge, and I am truly blessed to be in this po­si­tion,” Bagby said.

“Cheyney has a great tra­di­tion and his­tory. I wanted to be a part of that. My ex­cite­ment comes from lov­ing bas­ket­ball, and hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to be a head coach af­ter 22 years, it was a no-brainer.”

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHEYNEY UNI­VER­SITY

Se­nior Am­ber Gen­wright is the top re­turn­ing guard for the Cheyney women’s bas­ket­ball team. She av­er­aged over 10 points a game last sea­son, and led the team in as­sists.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHEYNEY UNI­VER­SITY

TaKayla El­lis is one of the re­turn­ing play­ers this sea­son for Cheyney.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHEYNEY UNI­VER­SITY

Tammy Bagby takes over as head coach at Cheyney, its third since 2013.

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