With three new faces playing the setter position at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this season, head coach Tony Graystone and assistant coach Kendra Potts are perfectly comfortable in this position. By his count, this will be the fourth time in his coaching career that he has entered a season with a true freshman starting at the position, including once when Potts played for him at West Texas A&M.
"As coaches we know what to expect because we've been through it before, Kendra as a freshman and a couple of other players in the same situation. This is going to be my fourth time where I've had a freshman setter," said Graystone. "I know there are going to be ups and downs and we are just looking for them to find their rhythm and confidence so they don't question their decisions out there on the court."
The biggest factor working in favor of the Islanders and the players is the athleticism shown by all three newcomers. Logen Bourque, Renee Ramirez and Brittani Loux will be the three newcomers helping run the Islander offense. Bourque is the tallest of the three, standing at 5-11, while Ramirez is 5-5 and Loux is 5-6.
"Logen is somebody that I can really identify with because she is an offensive player, she grew up as a hitter, got into the setting position a little late and she is left-handed," said Potts. "I like to think of her as an athlete playing the setter position so I think we are going to have a lot of fun with her.
"The other two are scrappy, go for anything and are quick. What we liked about these girls from the beginning is that they are very coachable and extremely athletic so their ceilings are really high. They don't have a lot of limitations unless they put it on themselves."
Potts was herself a true freshman thrust into the starting lineup as a setter so her experience not only at the position but in a similar situation will be used to help the three players adapt quickly to the pressures and quickness of the collegiate game.
"I try to go back to the state of mind that I was at when I was their age and in that situation," said Potts. "I was lucky enough to have the patience of the coaching staff and the patience of my teammates.
"Of course we are going to push them but we will be patient and try to have them not sweat the small stuff as much. They are going to make errors; they have to understand they are going to make them and have to learn from them so patience is probably the key right now."
Although she knows it can be tough, she also knows that they have to play through any adversity and do the best that they can.
"You have to think about the fact that they are not the only freshmen in the country that are going to see the court. There are many freshmen so an excuse cannot really be there," said Potts. "They are not alone. I want to take responsibility for them not making excuses because they have to know that they have a coaching staff there to back them up, support them and help them through any times of uncertainty."
Graystone wants his players to get accustomed to the game and build trust with the coaching staff so they will be confident in themselves when the season rolls around. He figures everything else will fall in to place.
"Our goal is to get a really nice relationship going with them early so that we can communicate and problem solve on the court while not letting the moment get too big for them," said Graystone. "To have Kendra, who has been through it herself coaching our setters and being right there with whichever of our freshmen that are setting team, that's going to be really big.
"It's a good feeling and I'm not really concerned about it."