By Kevin Eickman
While competing last season in the Henlopen North, the Milford girls basketball team compiled a record of 4-16. This year under former junior varsity coach Kevin Barkley, the Buccaneers are looking to better that. There are a lot of factors at work that are going to make it quite a challenge for Milford this season.
One of the first things to take a look at is the fact that the Bucs will be facing much stiffer competition, moving up to D-I and playing a full Henlopen North schedule.
“That is our first hurdle, we are going to be going against some much stronger competition than last season,” Barkley said. “It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. We are going to have to change a lot of things about how we do things around here if we hope to compete.”
The teams that compete in the Henlopen North play a much more aggressive style as well as having a larger student body to obtain players from. With the Buccaneers being the smallest team in terms of numbers in D-I, it also adds another layer of complexity to the mix.
“We will be going up against teams that have deep benches to go along with a one-on-one skill set that they have. These are things that we are going to have to learn how to do,” Barkley said. “We know it’s going to take some time and it’s not going to be easy, but I believe in this group of young ladies.”
When speaking about the “one-on-one” skills of the other teams, Barkley is referring to their ability to break down defenses. That is one thing that he believes his team can do well and improve on quickly as the season progresses.
“We have players that are strong and can play defense. They are just going to have to adjust the way that they have been playing it,” he said. “I think as the season goes on and it becomes more familiar to them as a group, the results and progress will start to display themselves.”
With eight sophomores on the squad, the task will be getting the players to bond as a team.
“Most of the girls are coming from the middle school, so in a way they are already on the path to getting that accomplished,” Barkley said. “They get along really well, so again it’s a matter of them learning to play better basketball at a faster pace.”
One of the players to keep an eye out for will be sophomore guard Sha’vaughn Waples. Waples has solid instincts and good hands with the ball. She will be looked at to lead this young squad with confident leadership.
“Sha’vaughn is a very solid basketball player, the type any coach would love to have. She is smart and confident and cool under pressure. I’m pretty excited to see how much she can improve her game this season,” Barkley said.
Along with Waples, senior Adrian Blake will be expected to provide a leadership role as well. Fellow senior Cierra Dennis is another player to keep an eye on this season.
Barkley understands that it’s going to be a tough year for the squad. He also knows that this is just a fresh start, not the beginning for Milford girls’ basketball.
“This is not about winning today, this is not about the team, this is about building a program. The type of program where we can bring the best players in Milford, up through the system and get them to be solid contributors to the program.”
Milford hosts Middletown December 4 on opening night at 6:15 p.m.
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