Tide looks forward to next season

Laura Owens

The Alabama women’s basketball team finished its season Thursday after losing to Georgia 73-66 in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Although their season ended with a loss, the team still finished with a record to remember.

The Crimson Tide earned four conference wins, including a sweep of Florida and a win in Tuscaloosa against in-state rival Auburn. Though the team wasn’t able to perform at its highest level, Alabama’s 2009-2010 season showed vast improvement from past years.

“My overall outlook on the season is we’re getting better,” said junior Tierney Jenkins. “You can finally see improvement. The coaches are always like, ‘We’re improving,’ but I think people can finally see it.”

Head coach Wendell Hudson said the Tide took major steps toward improvement this year, and that he was looking forward to building on that.

“I think one of the good things is that the team never quit,” he said. “Over the course of the whole season, especially towards the end, I think this team learned a lot about never giving up and making sure you play hard.”

For many of the players, the win against Auburn was the highlight of the season. Both Jenkins and sophomore Erika Russell said it was a big victory for the team.

“It’s an in-state rivalry, and all the coaches wanted it really badly because most of the coaches are alumni,” Jenkins said. “So beating Auburn was probably the coolest thing.”

In Alabama’s last game against Georgia, Russell earned a career-high 30 points, keeping the team in the game.

“It felt good,” she said. “I mean, I’ve been in a slump lately, so it felt good to end strong. But, I mean a loss is a loss, so I don’t really care about the career.”

According to ESPN.com, Alabama’s incoming recruiting class is ranked No. 9 in the nation. The Tide has two official signees in ESPN’s Top 100 in Jasmine Robinson and Kaneisha Horn, who are ranked 65th and fifth, respectively.

“I’m really excited about this freshman class coming in,” Jenkins said. “They’re really good. It’s my senior year, so I want to help them to whatever they can.”

Jenkins said she was a host for most of the recruits during the season, showing them around and getting them comfortable with the University, so she’s already had the chance to get to know most of them.

Now that this season is over, the girls get two weeks off and resume their weight training the week after spring break. Russell said in the off-season, she planned on working on every part her game.

“I’ll be working on shooting, ball handling better, being more of a leader, trying to get more people in the gym,” she said. “Just basically getting more shots up and working on technique.”

Starting next fall, the Tide will start practicing in the Foster Auditorium, which the University is currently renovating for the women’s basketball team.

“I’m really looking forward to moving into that building,” Hudson said. “Hopefully, next year we’re going to add some fans that are really interested in going into that building and helping us make that building a home court advantage.”

For next season, Jenkins said she already has her sights set on the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

“It’s my senior year, so I want to leave with a bang,” she said, “and the NCAA Tournament would be leaving with a bang. So I’m looking forward to it.”