During the 2011-12 season, opposing teams used full-court presses to force the Railroaders into a bounty of turnovers. When Sparks managed to keep the ball in the offenses’ hands, it often was unable to finish at the bucket. This year, Sparks head coach Tony Shaw is hopeful that his team can correct those flaws that plagued the Railroaders.
“Handling the pressure is going to be important for us this year and making free throws is another thing that we need to improve on,” Shaw said. “Overall, just dealing with the pressure throughout a game will be key for us if we want to be competitive. We only have 11 players again and we don’t have much height again. If we can handle the pressure, I think that we can adjust to just about anything.
“We’re going to be in shape and we’re going to play defense. It’s not like we weren’t aggressive last year. It was little things that beat us. It was free throws, two-footers, that sort of stuff. If we can handle the pressure though and work the presses to get the other team out of it, then I think we can adjust a lot better and compete a lot better.”
In order to make the necessary changes and find the results, he knows the Lady Railroaders are capable of, Shaw will look to a pair of seniors to lead the way.
“I’m expecting a lot from Krystal Parker and Katelynn Vandever,” he said. “Krystal can shoot from just about anywhere in a gym and Katelynn is just an animal. So if we can get those two clicking, I think that can help us a lot on improving. If we can get people to just buy in, we will be competitive. It’s just a matter of doing the little things right.”
With the season set to tip, Shaw said he is excited to see if the Railroaders can improve upon their 4-14 finish overall and their 2-8 finish in the Mount Rose League last season.
“I’m just excited for just a good start. I just want a good, decent start,” he said. “I don’t want to get blown out. We want to just come out and play hard and have something to work on and build from moving forward. Our first four games are at home so we should get a little more comfortable out there.”