UAPB looking to gel better


No one is more thankful that its nonconference schedule is nearly over than the Arkansas-Pine Bluff women’s basketball team.

In the month of the November, UAPB faced the likes of Marquette, Iowa, Xavier and Nebraska – all on the road – and losing every game by an average of 20 or more points. Its closest game didn’t come until Dec. 4 when UAPB lost 58-50 to Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.

It seemed as UAPB had finally found its identity and were making a turning point before heading into its conference schedule. But a 77-75 lost to Talladega College — a NAIA school – at home and 91-45 loss to Memphis has forced UAPB (1-8) to take a step back once again.

“We are still a work in progress,” UAPB assistant Danny Evans said. “We are still a young team with a lot of new people.

“Right now, we just haven’t been playing well. Our defense is not there and we are not shooting well.”

In the 46-point loss to Memphis, UAPB was 17 of 58 (29 percent) from the floor and 0 for 6 from the beyond the arch. The Lady Tigers were 33 of 73 (45 percent) from the floor and 19 of 26 from the free throw line.

“They are a fast-break team and they got into their rhythm,” Evans said. “It just wasn’t a good game for us.”

UAPB will close out the calendar year with its final nonconference game against Arizona before facing Mississippi Valley in Itta Bena, Miss. to open its SWAC schedule on Jan. 4.

The biggest challenge for UAPB this season is the lack of experience. Other than Cassidy Wright – who still missed a lot of last season due to injury – no one has had a lot of game-time experience.

“I just think we need some continuality,” Evans said. “And know each other better. That will come with time in practice and in games.

“You have to know where your teammate is going to be at anytime and I just don’t think we’ve gotten there yet.”

Last year, UAPB finished 13-18 and made it to the semifinals of the SWAC tournament before being eliminated by Mississippi Valley.

“Over the course of the season, they got to know each other and trust each other,” Evans said. “This year, it has showed up in spurts in some of our early games.

“We just haven’t had a consistent effort.”

Evans said it is going to take some time for this team to gel.

“We have some new people who are trying to be scorers and it just hasn’t come about yet,” Evans said. “We aren’t shooting well and we are horrible at the line.

“We have to be better at the free throw line.”

As a team, UAPB is shooting just over 50 percent from the free throw line. They have made 77 of 151 from the charity stripe so far this season.

“We aren’t shooting well at the free throw line and we are not playing well,” Evans said.

Wright leads the team with 9.3 points per game this year and Christina Lasane is second with 7.7 ppg. Carlisha Walker leads the team with 5.6 rebounds per game.

“We haven’t found a consistent scorer, where we can depend on one person,” Evans said. “We have a new leader every game. Somebody needs to step up to be that person.

“We just have to be consistent.”

Evans said having a different scoring leader is not a problem as long as it is consistent.

“Some nights, no one has showed up to score,” Evans said.

UAPB is shooting .342 from the field this season and .222 from the three-point line.

As tough as UAPB’s nonconference schedule has been, Evans refuses to use it as an excuse.

“We are going to have that every year,” Evans said. “…Obviously you get better by playing better talent.”

After the conference opener against Valley, UAPB will play Alabama A&M and Alabama State before ­returning home to host Southern University on Jan. 18.