going to be consistent and step up. There are a lot of role changes.”
So a lot will be expected from senior Emily Hopper, who averaged 2.1 points per game in limited minutes last year, to say the least.
“We’re expecting a lot out of those,” Chumley said of players getting little playing time last year. “Hopper has developed probably into the best shooter on the team. She needs to be a SCORER. We’re not asking her to play a small role anymore.
Her role needs to be huge, scoring and rebounding. Tuesday Melton, the junior, she has showed in practice she can take that role, too. We just need everybody to chime in.
“Cayla Clayton (senior) is fighting through a back injury and has played at a high level at times. Jordan Miller, another junior probably going to start for us, is probably the best athlete on the team. They’ve played small roles, so they’re going to have to really expand and grow as players this year.”
Chumley went on saying that everyone on the roster has a chance to play this season.
“Bissette Childress right out of the gate is going to have to step up,” he said. “I think she can score more than she thinks she can. She’ll have to change her mentality a little bit and not be just a point guard, but a scoring point guard.
“Raegan Swindle, Jenna Wright, and probably the hardest worker on the team by far is Katherine Simmons. Katherine works so hard and makes defensive plays, rebounding-wise, keeps balls alive for us, so she will earn some playing time just because of how hard she works. In a year like this when you’re trying to put pieces together, she can be some of that glue because of her effort.
“They all have a chance to play, everybody. Then you have another sophomore, Ava Harris, she’s as tough as they come. Makaila Kutchka can shoot the basketball. Every single one of them have a chance to play. Lauren Howell is another senior who has worked hard. She’s one of the better leaders on the team. We just have to put the pieces together and find seven or eight that can be compatible and get done what we need to get done.”
Chumley also expects currently injured senior Lexie Newman and sophomore Sarabeth Bostian to contribute immediately once healed.
Known for defense during Chumley’s coaching tenure, the Lady Panthers will no doubt have to lean on defense this season.
“Probably even more than ever because we’re going to really struggle offensively at times,” he said. “It’s going to put a lot of pressure on our defense. It’s been a staple. This group hasn’t quite figured that out yet, but as time goes and we get some games under our belt, I think they will. They work hard, they’re great kids to be around and we’re having a lot of good practices.
“It’s going to be trial and error at times. You’re probably going to see a different starting lineup just about every night for a while. They don’t have a lot of experience and they haven’t won a whole lot in their careers, but this team can compete and be something pretty solid by the middle of it.”
The Lady Panthers will host the Pine Bluff Fillies tonight in Benton Arena for a benefit game. Junior varsity tips off at 5 p.m. with varsity to follow.