By Brian Paglia
During most of Morrow girls basketball practice Monday, head coach Yolanda Jenkins sat on the sideline in a chair as her assistant coaches conducted drills. She observed in silence, until one player gave up an easy lay-up. Then Jenkins sprung up to let the player know of her transgression.
Jenkins has had a lot of observing to do this preseason. Faced with the youngest roster in Jenkins' seven-year tenure at Morrow, she has been largely confounded with how great the Lady Mustangs' potential can be with Morrow's season-opener impending next week at the Arrowhead Classic Thanksgiving Tournament.
"This is my first year having to deal with this type of situation," Jenkins said. "This is going to be different."
That makes the prospect of advancing past the first round of the state playoffs, a feat that has eluded Morrow four consecutive years, all that more tenuous.
The Lady Mustangs have continued its remarkable success under Jenkins, but they haven't been able to conquer the first round recently. They lost only one region game last season, but fell to Redan, 56-32, in the first round. Two seasons ago a 23-4 season ended with a first-round 57-43 loss to Coffee. The year before that it was to Colquitt County.
"That's a personal thing now for me, as well as our program," Jenkins said. "I think I could come up with a lot of different reasons why, but I don't know."
Only one senior returns this season in forward Jasmine Storey. The rest of the projected starting five features two juniors (Katamara Maxwell and Chatil Bradford) that played on junior varsity last season and two sophomores (Chelsea Shower and Brittney Askew).
Morrow's season hinges on their development, how quick they adhere to Jenkins' emphasis on defense and whether they can maintain consistency through a full game.
"We tend to have problems just doing the little things consistently," Jenkins said. "We're good maybe a quarter or two, and then we kind of lose focus. It's hard to keep them focused for four quarters."