Alex Coyne may have not scored a lot of points or made a lot of game-changing plays, but she did do something the Lady Eagle basketball team needed. Coyne ran the offensive sets of coach Joye Lee-McNelis flawlessly.
She also provided excellent defense and a backbone to the 2014- 15 Lady Eagles. But now Coyne is gone— transferred to West Florida—and a gaping hole has been left.
In to take her place are three viable options. The first is fresh- man Keri Jewett-Giles. While Jewett-Giles is a freshman and Lee- McNelis has kept her learning curve small, only allowing the basics so far, the freshman still appears primed for a large role.
In the exhibition win on Nov. 7 against West Alabama, Jewett-Giles was all over the court and made her presence known. She posted a stat line of nine points, six rebounds and five steals. If the Lady Eagles can get that kind of productivity out of Jewett-Giles, then she will log a lot of minutes.
Second on the list is Tajanay Veiga. Veiga was on the floor for 22 minutes in the exhibition game as opposed to Jewett-Giles, who was on the floor for 19 minutes. Veiga is older and more experienced in the collegiate game, but her effect was not as instantaneous as Jewett-Giles.
In more minutes, Veiga failed to score a point, but did nail down a pair of assists and two steals. Veiga’s style is more in line with that of Coyne, who was more of a distributor.
Jewett-Giles is more like the final member of the point guard candidates, Jerontay Clemons. A pre-season Conference USA selection, Clemons was key for the Lady Eagles down the stretch in last season’s run to the WNIT quarterfinals.
Clemons’ natural position is at shooting guard, but when Coyne went down to injury in the tournament, Clemons stepped in at point guard. When Clemons stepped in, she brought a different dimension to the Lady Eagle offense.
Even though Clemons did not log as many assists as Coyne and may not have run the offense to a ‘T,’ she brought a scoring element that was sorely lacking. In Lee-McNelis’ offense, the point guard does not always have to be a scorer.
But if the point guard is limited in driving to the basket and is not as great at creating her own shot, the offense as a whole is limited. Clem- ons can drive and finish at the basket and can create her own shot.
Plus, if Clemons is on the floor, it also opens things up for Brittanny Dinkins, another key offensive player for the Lady Eagles. If Clemons is at shooting guard, Dinkins would have to be on the bench, which she was for most of 2014-15, but still logged minutes.
If Clemons and Dinkins are on the floor at the same time, the Lady Eagle offense could be at an entirely different level than last year. Lee- McNelis led teams are known for their defense and a strong outing by the Lady Eagles against West Alabama proves they still are. But, with the offensive firepower Dinkins and Clemons bring to the table, Lee-McNelis would be hard pressed to not start the two.