By Ryan Day | email@example.com
Flagler women’s basketball head coach Sherri Abbey-Nowatzki promises two things: an exciting brand of basketball and a competitive group of girls every time the Saints take the court.
“Anyone that comes out to watch us is going to watch a more talented and much faster team,” Nowatzki said. “That much I can tell you.”
This is Nowatzki’s second year as head coach of the women’s basketball team. Last year, she led the Saints to a 13-16 overall record as a provisional member of Div. II, and if Nowatzki’s attitude in practice is any indication of how her team will perform, this year’s women’s basketball team will indeed be one Saints fans won’t want to miss.
“It’s fun to play for a coach that wants to win as badly as she does,” captain Brittney Garmon said. “That desire rubs off on all of us.”
“She [Nowatzki] was the reason I transferred,” Flagler forward Elizabeth Tuzzolo said. “I love her as a coach. Her style is all about fundamentals. We’re just having fun playing basketball.”
Tuzzolo was the second leading scorer on the team last year with 295 points in 29 games. Despite losing their leading scorer Jamie Allenbaugh, Nowatzki and the rest of the Saints aren’t worried. They are welcoming that “passing of the torch” and are ready to prove that they are a unified team, not a group of individuals with the same color jersey.
“We relied on her a little too much last year,” Garmon said referring to the 455 points Allenbaugh scored last season. Only three players, Allenbaugh, Garmon and Tuzzolo had more than 10 points per game. Only those three players had more than 200 points on the season.
“There’s no way to replace what Allenbaugh was for us last year,” Nowatzki said. “And I don’t want to take away anything she did because she was an excellent player. But the brand of basketball I’m trying to implement is about everyone getting involved and that includes the bench. I can’t tell you who our starting five are because we have such great depth and talent this year.”
“The system she’s putting in is fast,” Flagler guard Melanie Aguila said. “No walking and dribbling the ball. It’s about running and shooting and passing the ball around the court.”
“The key to that system working is how early the team comes together,” Nowatzski said. “It’s going to be up to the leaders to step it up.”
The leaders of the team and the system will be put to the test this season. The Saints will play host to eighth-ranked, Div. II Elite-8 quarterfinalist Henderson State University of Arkansas on Jan. 2 and will host Rollins College, the two-time defending Sunshine State Conference regular season champions, on Jan. 12.
“They can be really good teams and they can be ranked, but I feel like we’re going to go out and really show them something,” Aguila said. “It’ll be fun to see where we stand.”
The Saints open their home schedule against St. Thomas University on Nov. 15 at 5:30 p.m.