Head Coach comments on player rotation for Lady Bears
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If you’ve been following the women’s basketball team this season, you may have noticed two things.
First, they’ve been having a great season, winning 18 of their 23 games, maintaining a 10-2 record at home.
You may have also noticed that the team has been sticking to a small rotation of 7 to 8 players. In their game against Samford on Jan. 28, Sydni Means remained in the game for all forty minutes.
“Teams can come back in less than a minute and win a game,” Coach Gardner said. “We haven’t had 20 point leads where I haven’t subbed.”
Gardner said there are a lot of good players in the league that can turn a game around in the last couple minutes of a game if they aren’t careful.
“I do what I feel is best for this program,” Gardner said.
In games that Mercer had a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, the rotation has expanded to include up to 15 players. For instance, their game against Paine College which Mercer won 93 to 50.
Gardner said she uses each practice as an opportunity to determine who will get playing time.
Gardner said there are many factors that go into her decision, including which players play well together and their individual offensive and defensive capabilities.
“There’s decisions about matchup when we’re playing certain teams that play a certain style,” Gardner said. “Certain players can’t play against certain styles. There’s a laundry list of things that we go through.”
Gardner said that even in the SEC, at this point in the season, it becomes more difficult to change up the rotation as playoff season gets closer and competition increases.
“Look at the South Carolina v. Mississippi State game [on Jan. 23],” Gardner said. “South Carolina is ranked number 4 in the country and they played seven players in that game. They’ve got McDonald’s All-Americans up and down their bench.”
Gardner said even as the games intensify she is not concerned with her starters wearing out as they advance into the season.
“We go to great lengths balancing practice time,” Gardner said. “A game is only forty minutes. I don’t think 18 to 22 year olds are wearing themselves out by playing 2 games a week.”
In an email, Mercer Athletics told The Cluster secondary interviews for the story would not be granted.
“The coaching staff does not want to grant any more interviews on this subject be [it] either the coaches or players so we will not be able to fulfill this request,” said Jenny Moss, assistant director of media relations.