KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A 23-win season and a Summit League semifinals berth is hard to follow up for first-year Kansas City Roos women’s basketball head coach Dionnah Jackson-Durrett.
But she likes competition and said her team will be led by three words: respect, discipline and competitiveness.
“The plan for this season is just to take one game at a time. One day data time, one moment at a time, one game at a time,” Jackson-Durrett said at media day on Monday.
“We gone learn, improve, compete and repeat.”
In the first few weeks of Jackson-Durrett’s first head coaching stop, she led the team in drills and practice but found out that she didn’t know her team well enough.
They spent a week off the court just doing team-building exercises to grow closer together. The players say they chose to enroll or stay at UMKC because of how the coaching staff felt like family.
“It was kind of like God sent somebody for me,” junior guard Sanaa’ St. Andre said. St. Andre was a key contributor to last year’s team and will be leaned on heavily this year as well. “She came to me as a person first and I feel like I needed that more so I felt like it wasn’t just all about basketball when we first met. She genuinely wanted to know about me and how I feel.”
Graduate guard and Lawrence alum E’Lease Stafford has been a key contributor to other Division 1 programs like East Tennessee State and Utah State. The comforting feeling from the coaching staff helped her choose to return home for her final college season.
“I didn’t know Coach Jackson but it just seemed like I knew her for years and it felt like it was time for me to come home.”
With the roster set and the pieces in place, the team is excited for the season to show why the Roos are better than their sixth-place Summit League preseason poll placement.
And the plan is to do that with lots of defense.
“It is in your face. It’s pressure, it’s aggressive, it’s full court press for 40 minutes. And I don’t think a lot of people in this league are doing that,” Jackson-Durrett said.
“I’m ready to start conference play to just run up and down the floor,” St. Andre said. “I feel like the way that they want us to play in our defense, nobody’s gonna be able to stop that in our conference.”
The Roos’ season starts with an exhibition vs. Pittsburg State on Sunday, October 30 with their first regular season action coming on November 7 vs. Westminster.
Conference play begins December 19 at South Dakota.
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