Shaquera Wade provides leadership for young Alabama team

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Shaquera Wade provides leadership for young Alabama team

RJ Nealon, Staff Writer

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The impression fans get from this year’s Alabama women’s basketball team is that it’s full of young players, and that’s true. A team that has six freshmen and only three seniors is struggling to find that statement win. With one of the Crimson Tide’s most dominant playmakers, Jordan Lewis being out the rest of the season with a hand injury, Alabama has begun to lean on senior Shaquera Wade.

This season Wade has stepped up in ways that a senior should. Her season high in points (20) came against Southeastern Louisiana, and her high in minutes is (41), a stat that last year would have been given to Lewis, came against SMU. Wade continues to set examples for the younger players.

Wade loves being the energizer, the player that the younger players aim to be when they get older. For her, it’s all about work ethic and being a leader away from the actual game and more so in practice.

“I put a lot on myself as a senior, but I think it’s very important that I know what I’m doing and I have a lot of young players looking up to me, along with the people that are seniors as well like Taylor Berry,” Wade said. “I know they feed off of me, so it’s very important that I watch what I do and say.”

Alabama head coach Kristy Curry has fallen in love with Wade’s approach to how she leads the team. She knows it’s a young team and there are many little things still to be fixed, but she puts a lot of the critical roles on Wade.

“It’s just every day in practice, she was in the gym over the summer,” Curry said. “There is nobody that works harder in practice. Her vocal leadership, it’s the little things on the bus that you hear her say or do. She really encourages them.”

Alabama has been a team of streaks. The Crimson Tide went on a three-game win streak to open the season, and then a four-game win streak, then after beating Florida, Alabama, is on another streak, but this time it’s a losing streak.

In the last three games, Alabama has shown a lot of concerns. In a 66-56 loss to Auburn, the Crimson Tide turned the ball over 25 times. Against Texas A&M, the team shot just 27 percent and had 14 turnovers. When the Crimson Tide hosts No. 20 Tennessee, it cannot afford to make those mistakes.

Tennessee will be Alabama’s toughest game of the season. For the Crimson Tide to have the success it needs, it has to win in a few different areas: turnovers, dribble penetration, and assists. Slowing down Tennessee will be vital to winning.

“Everyone is tough in our league, and obviously that’s one of their forte’s, we know they are forcing 15 turnovers a game right now,” Curry said. “And you know at the end of the day it’s just us continuing to go back to work every day and do every drill.”

Alabama is on a four-game winning streak over the Lady Vols, including winning the last two games in Coleman Coliseum and winning last year in Knoxville for the first time 72-63. For the young freshman, it’s a new feeling but for Wade—she’s been there and knows what a win like this would do to the team.

With both teams riding a three-game losing streak, Wade looks to put that leadership on display. She looks to extend the win streak to five over Tennessee and get that statement win.

Alabama sits at 9-8 (1-3 SEC) on the season. The Crimson Tide starts a two-game homestand against No. 20 Tennessee 12-4 (1-3 SEC), and LSU 11-5 (2-2 SEC). Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. on Jan. 17.