Q&A: Hughey looking for consistency, leader in team
So far, every year in the American Athletic Conference the women’s basketball team have been bottom feeders. Last year was only a slight improvement for head coach Ronald Hughey’s team as they finished 10th out of the 11 teams in the AAC.
Since joining the team in 2014, Hughey has been working to earn a postseason berth for the Cougars, their first since 2010-11. But so far he has had no luck. In his three years as head coach Hughey has amassed a 24-67 record as head coach.
But the coach believes this could be a breakout year for the Cougars.
The Cougar: Some of your seniors, like Jacqueline Blake and Kierra Graves, graduated. How does this team feel different than the one you had last year?
Ronald Hughey: Last year’s team needed to play with pace. There were times when we could run and times we needed to slow it down — times we needed to execute in the half-court and those kind of things. This team can just go. We’re athletic, we’re fast, and we can move the basketball. We can shoot it from different places on the floor. We can attack the basket, (and) we have rebounding.
This team needs to get the maturity level up, and we have to find a leader — someone who’s going to step up and be able to command the attention of everyone each and every day. This team has the possibility of surpassing all the teams that I’ve had since I’ve been here.
The Cougar: You have quite a few players returning from last year. Who are you expecting to either keep up their production from last year or take the next step into this year to help you be successful?
Hughey: Well they’ve already started pushing (their) production up. Chyanne (Butler) is out right now with a knee injury, so she hasn’t played a minute yet. Angela Harris, Jasmyne Harris, Dorian Branch and Serithia Hawkins have all stepped up into prominent roles where they need to fill the void of the production we lost last year.
The Cougar: What are your goals for the team this year?
Hughey: We have to make sure that we consistently get in the top three of the conference. When you have UConn in conference and USF and Temple, and you also play against Texas A&M and Boston College, it prepares you for what the conference is like. I don’t think we can’t surpass any of the people that were ahead of us last year. So we’re definitely looking for some postseason play.
The Cougar: Looking forward into the next couple weeks, what would you say will be the hardest test for the team?
Hughey: The hardest test for our team is ourselves — it’s the time away. It’s no classes, and it’s idle time. They have to stay focused. They have to stay buckled down. If we come in focused, ready to work and have no excuses, we’re really good. If we come in and we’re not as focused and we’re worrying about other things on the floor or off the floor, then we’re our own worst enemy. Our goal is to try to keep them as focused as we possibly can on the goal at hand and take it one game at a time and see where that possibly leads us.