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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Aces in the hole

    As any good coach knows, regardless of the sport, it is impossible to produce success alone. First-year head coach Niya Butts took this philosophy to heart when she was hired and assembled one of the most energetic and promising coaching staffs in the country.

    The staff

    Upon her arrival in Tucson in April, Butts made it her first objective to hire a coaching staff. And not just any coaching staff, but a staff that strongly agrees and buys into Butts’ high-energy, maximum-effort philosophy, and can preach it with the same passion and zeal that she can.

    “”The main thing is that we are a team,”” Butts said. “”From the players to the coaches, we need to do this together as one cohesive unit.””

    With that in mind, Butts went out and hired Sue Darling, Brandy Manning and Chance Lindley.

    Darling, a former player and captain at the UA, has more than 20 years of coaching experience from Northwestern, ASU, Dartmouth and Pima Community College.

    Manning, who will also be in charge of recruiting, is a future coaching star with intense energy. Manning has spent the last few seasons at Louisville, Murray State and Central Florida. His strongest asset is his ability to connect with players and motivate them to bring out their best effort.

    Lindley, a graduate of Wichita State, has been coaching for eight years, including a stint at Barton County Community College in Kansas, where he was named the NJCAA Division I District F Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year.

    “”They’re a great staff that works hard,”” Butts said, trying to contain herself from showing just how pleased she is. “”They’ve been making me look so good since I got here, and I have nothing but good things to say about them.””

    Perhaps the secret weapon in the coaching staff is Alysiah Bond, the director of basketball operations. Bond, a longtime friend fellow coach with Manning, was a point guard and two-time captain at Ohio State University. Her undeniable charm and eagerness to succeed make her the perfect candidate for her basketball-related tasks, as well as the color-commentator for the Wildcat radio broadcasts.

    “”She makes my job a lot easier,”” Butts said. “”She’s been very, very helpful and she is an important part of what we do here.””

    With such a strong staff, Butts said the pieces are in place for not only future success, but immediate success as well.

    “”They’ve all been great, and will continue to be great,”” she said. “”They’re all really good at what they do, and they make me look good.””

    The coach on the floor

    Whether a basketball team is primarily upperclassmen or underclassmen, the necessity for good coaching doesn’t apply only to the suits on the bench.

    Some of the greatest athletes are not only the ones who pile up the stats, but also have the ability to find a way to improve their teammates. Michael Jordan had the uncanny ability to make his team better through his play, and Derek Jeter has been a rock in the locker room to players for more than a decade.

    The Wildcats’ coach on the floor this season is junior point guard Ashley Frazier.

    Frazier, in her first year after playing at South Plains College for two seasons, has quickly learned the offense and led the team in assists and 3-point shooting during the preseason.

    In addition to her offensive play, Frazier has also displayed superb perimeter defense, using her quickness to lead the team in steals.

    What has been most impressive, however, was Frazier’s leadership on the court, especially toward freshman guard Reiko Thomas. Whether it’s during a play or a break, Frazier is always doling out advice to her teammates.

    “”She’s got to lead the team the best she can on and off the floor,”” Butts said of her point guard. “”She has to be the engine on the floor for us each and every night.””

    When the clock is stopped, Butts is confident Frazier will be keeping the team in check and doing whatever she can to help the team win. When the clock is running, the key to Frazier’s success, in Butts’ mind, is efficient play.

    “”We are looking for her to keep her turnovers down. As far as bringing the ball up, we want her to do whatever the situation calls for,”” Butts said. “”If the shot is there, we want her to take it. She has to be able to know when to take a shot and when to make a pass.

    “”I’ve been real pleased with the way Ashley has played,”” Butts added. “”She’s done a great job so far of running the team.

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