Coach Antoine focusing on ‘mental, physical fitness’

Sports Reporter

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“One thing about championship teams is that they're resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity.”

Coach Zenarae Antoine picked a quote from Alabama coach Nick Saban to reinforce the team’s vision this season.

A championship is on her mind, a year after her team tied for third place in the Sun Belt Conference.

“I have a quote every single week,” Antoine said. “I thought this one was fitting for our vision this year and what our young women want – to win the championship.”

After improving from 10-20 to 16-16 in one season, Antoine has big plans going into her fourth year as head coach. She will rely on Meghan Braeuer, senior guard, for the brunt of the leadership responsibility.

“We recruited Meghan not just necessarily for her skill, but for the fact that she’s a tough kid,” Antoine said. “She comes from a good family and she did a great job when she was at Midland of taking her team to JUCO nationals. We need that type of tenacity to move us forward. We’re going to need her to increase our leadership for us as well to take us to a place where we can compete for a championship.”

This will be Braeuer’s second year playing for the Bobcats, and she will transition into a leadership position now that Kaylan Martin and Ashley Ezeh have graduated.

“Kaylan paved the path for me,” Braeuer said. “She left a good role that I can look up to and follow. I think following in those footsteps and helping my team that way is going to help us this year.”

This year the team is guard heavy with players Braeuer, Ayriel Anderson, junior guard, and Raven Burns, junior guard, and Erin Peoples, junior guard, leading the pack.

“I think we have strength in the guard position,” Braeuer said. “Our core group of guards helps lead the other guards but I think as a collective group that’s our strength. It makes my job a lot easier whenever I don’t have to be the primary playmaker. I can easily hand it off to Ayriel, Erin or Raven and be comfortable with them.”

The team aims to play faster on offense and defense to take advantage of their guard play. Antoine says the change-up in the team dynamic will help the team get that much closer to a championship.

“I think one of the biggest changes for us is the fact that we’re going to be a lot more up-tempo on both ends of the floor,” Antoine said.” I think we’re in the right place right now as far as what the vision is. I think the team has bought into the fact that we are a different look. “

The Bobcats are leaning on this new playing style in order to compete at a high level against their opponents. The teams’ non-conference slate includes road games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and UTSA. 

While the team has a lot of goals set for this year, winning the championship is on the top of the list.

“Mental and physical fitness is my biggest priority right now,” Antione said. “I know that’s what championship teams have and that’s what it’s going to take to sustain a good season.”