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Notebook: Raiders cap first week of practice

Seniors are relishing leadership roles

October 4, 2013 · @MTAthletics

FIRST WEEK IN THE BOOKS

The first week of official practice concluded for Middle Tennessee women's basketball on Friday. The Blue Raiders are just over a month away from tipoff against Tennessee on Friday, Nov. 8. 

Coach Rick Insell was pleased with the team's overall tempo and work ethic during the first week.

"I am happy," noted Insell, who is in his ninth season. "I think we are in pretty good shape. There are a lot of little things we still must work on. We have some very talented ladies that have to pick up on how we play the game and when they do, we are going to be a pretty good basketball team."

The Blue Raiders continue practice next Monday inside the Murphy Center.

TAKING ON THE LEADERSHIP ROLE

Middle Tennessee has a nice mix of veterans and newcomers this season. The Blue Raiders are led by six seniors, which include Janay Brinkley, Janiece Johnson, Laken Leonard, Lauren March, Ebony Rowe and KeKe Stewart.

Lewisburg native March understand that the seniors play a pivotal role in helping continue to teach the fundamentals that Coach Insell expects from his student-athletes.

"I know what is expected of me," March said. "I have to play more of a leader on the court."

Stewart, a native of Oak Ridge, has also relished the role and is using that position to help motivate her younger teammates.

"I am constantly trying to talk to them and encourage them," Stewart said. "I am trying to help push them to get better every day." 

The seasoned veterans can see progress that is being made with their younger teammates.

"They are getting better each day," said March.

LEARNING THE SYSTEM

With four freshmen and a transfer new to the Blue Raiders system, the freshmen are taking in each day of practice. Those adjustments are certainly different from the high school level.

"The experience has been great," said freshman China Dow. "I am glad to play for one of the best coaches out there. It's different than high school. I have to get used to what Coach Insell wants us to do in the game than what I was used to. You have to do everything right and know your position."

With that experience comes an intensity and effort that Coach Insell expects from his incoming athletes.

"It has been very intense," forward Olivia Jones noted. "Coach Insell is giving us every little detail, step-by-step, so when we get two-to-three weeks in, he doesn't have to stress the little things as much."

Both freshmen lauded the upperclassmen on helping the players learn the intricate parts of the system.

"I've learned a lot," Dow said. "We are bonding as a team. They are showing us what we must do to be successful."

FAN DAY SET FOR OCT. 17

The Middle Tennessee Athletic Department will host Fan Day for the Blue Raider men's and women's basketball programs on Thursday, Oct. 17. The event is set for 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on the floor of the Murphy Center. Fan Day includes an autograph session, meet and greet with the players, as well as a select your seat promotion. Also, the players will introduce each other, while capping the evening with a fun three-point contest.

SEASON TICKETS ON SALE

Season tickets are now on sale for $100. The package of 15 games, includes visits from nationally-ranked foes Tennessee (Nov. 8) and Kentucky (Nov. 24). Fans can also purchase a combo pack, which includes men's and women's season tickets, for a discounted rate of $199. To purchase tickets, visit GoBlueRaiders.com or call 615-898-5261.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.