Head women’s basketball coach Derek Dawes was put into position with short notice in the middle of the season, but that didn’t stop him from helping the team get a win on Saturday against California Baptist University.
The team took this challenge of losing its head coach and made it a positive aspect of the season. The women are very excited to have Dawes as a new part of their team.
“I’m just thankful for Dawes to come in,” said forward Jaymee Brugman, a freshman communication major from Phoenix, Ariz. “He came in with a great attitude, and it helps a lot. He didn’t have to come in—but he did. So I’m thankful that he did.”
Dawes is making the best of this opportunity for the team.
“My goal is to help them have fun,” Dawes said. “If I could teach them a few things, great, but my biggest goal and my vision is to come away, when our season ends, with fond memories and have a good experience.”
Dawes said he already feels bonded to the team a week into his season.
“There’s not going to be a situation where Jason Boothe puts me in as head coach and the girls respect me [right from the start],” Dawes said. “I have to earn their respect as much as they have to earn my respect. Winning helps that, but we have to build on it, so when times are tough we still have each other’s back.”
Brugman said the past week has been different, but it has been a positive change.
“Practice was definitely different,” Brugman said. “Different coach, different drills, and different things. Dawes came in willing to help us and he’s helped us tremendously.”
Guard Shannon Gough, a freshman general education major from Reno, Nev., said the team is working more on mentality than any other aspect of the game.
“He hasn’t changed anything, and he’s focused on our mental attitude and our positivity,” Gough said. “I love him—I think he’s great.”
Dawes said it’s still a process. He said it’s going to be a long journey—but a good one.
“I was really proud of the way [the team] put all of that stuff behind them and played [Saturday],” Dawes said. “There’s not a lot of season left, so we’re going to have to come together quickly and we’ll see where this thing takes us.”
The team took a 73-69 win against Cal Baptist University Saturday, and it is expecting to have the same result this week against Azusa Pacific University.
“We still have to work on stuff,” Gough said. “There’s a lot to improve on still, but I think this is a turning page.”
The team lost to Azusa 59-66 on Jan. 12, but the team is working on defense and communication to help determine the win.
Brugman said while the team is working on the fundamentals, it is also focused on mental strength.
“We just try and focus more on the mental game,” Brugman said. “It’s about the heart and the mind.”
The team faces Azusa this Saturday at the Burns Arena at 5 p.m.
“The girls do what they do best, so I feel really good about it,” Dawes said. “I’m proud of them for their effort, I’m proud of the way they battled, and I’m proud of the way they stuck together and came through on top.”