By the looks of the first official team practice of the NJCAA women's basketball 2018-19 season, new Moberly Area Community College women's head coach Hana Haden is keeping Lady Greyhounds basketball as both a family-like culture and energized at a high level.

“Early in the preseason, the individual or small group practices are more about establishing our culture and expectations that I want out of the players every day. Now that we first get into our entire group together for workouts, we want to develop and establish team identity.”

Haden said the majority of her student athletes have done a great job on their personal workouts of conditioning leading up to Monday's first team practice. This will enable Haden and her assistant coaches Lacey Shalenko and Jalisa Mitchell the extra time to teach and further develop player skills and other aspects about how the Lady Greyhounds will go about operating this basketball season.

“It's early here into our preseason, but I really like where we are at this point of the season,” added Haden.

MACC held its first full-team practice Monday afternoon – 32 days prior to tipoff of the Lady Greyhounds regular season opener against Marshalltown CC, Iowa as part of the Nov. 2-3 Orscheln Properties Classic held here.

For nearly 20 minutes prior to the start of practice, players were involved in a shoot around and then circled up at midcourt. Haden reminded her team about items on the practice ledger, a quote of the day and words of encouragement were shared, and then the 16-member squad began their workout.

The first hour of this highly-energized session was loud with much player chatter as they communicated with one another while concentrating the majority of its skill efforts on one subject during performance on the Fitzsimmons-John Arena floor.

“We want to be a very defensive-minded basketball team. Most of our early team practices will focus on defensive drills as I really want to set the tone with that,” said Haden on Monday. “With 16 girls on this team who have never played together, it will take some work and time to figurer one another out and learn one another's strengths, and capitalize on that.”

Haden said her style of coaching and teaching the game will mirror that of systems she developed at Harris-Stowe University, a NAIA program that had been in a rut of hard times prior to her taking over the reigns from 2015-17. Haden led Harris-Stowe into a contender both years and the St. Louis program won at least 19 games both seasons.

In addition, Haden said team defense rose to NAIA prominence where her team was listed nationally within the Top 25 or Top 10 in several categories in such areas as steals, turnovers, forced turnover margin and others.

With that success, in 2017 the Springfield, Mo. native was named to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s 30 Under 30 list to further validate her being one of the top up-and-coming women's coaches.

“Harris-Stowe was not in great shape and my first year there they only had three eligible players and no new recruits had committed. I was given the opportunity to recruit my own young players, establish a winning-culture, one that set high expectations and set the bar high both within our basketball team and for my players with their college education,” said Haden after her MACC hiring in mid-June . “Support was given to my players so that academically they became successful and that was really huge. I feel it is important to first set the tone there, and then success will carry onto the court.”

Her Harris-Stowe teams compiled a 3.1 GPA and had a 100-percent graduation rate.

“As a coach, I feel developing relationships with each of your players is really important, and I want to build upon that every single day,” Haden said in mid-June. “I take pride in myself in the repertoire I have with my teams because I believe if a coach will make those daily deposits each day and that you care about your players, then you will get the most out of them in practice and ball games. You know you can go out and coach them hard because they know its coming from a good place. I want to instill a concept in that my players will go out and be confident in doing everything that they do.”

After her stint at Harris-Stowe, she accepted an assistant coaching position at NCAA Division I Lamar University, Texas for the one season prior to her coming to Moberly.

The first hour of Monday's practice involved some 5-on-5 play with ball passes made around the perimeter as coaches instructed the student athletes about proper body positioning as they defended. The team also broke out into two groups to work on their communication and defending skills when offensive screens are being set.

Defending the post, techniques of blocking out during rebound opportunities, guarding and containing the opposition when the ball is being brought down the court, and methods to go about forcing the opposition to operate its offense more toward the outer ends of the court were rehearsed.

“We want to be a team that dictates the flow of the game with our defense. We will want to speed people up and take them out of what they want to do. Whether that is picking them up with full court pressure and forcing their point guards to perform extra work, or forcing them to change the way they want to start their offense. This may mean forcing the other team to start or catch the ball two-to-three feet outside of where they prefer to start their offense,” Haden said. “We will want to keep them out of the middle of the floor. We want that area to be ours and force them to mostly play on the outer third of the court.”

Moberly Lady Greyhounds fans this season will only notice one returning face from last year's team – and that's 6'1 reserve Chrishey Wilkes of St. Louis - that put together one of the most remarkable campaign's in the women's program's 41-year history. Under seven-year head coach Chad Killinger the team won 32 consecutive games en route to qualifying for the NJCAA Division I Women's National Championship Tournament held at Lubbock, Texas.

The Lady Greyhounds lost its first contest there and only game of the season, and later Killinger

announced his resignation to accept an assistant women's coaching position at NCAA Division I East Carolina University at Greensboro, N.C.

Joining Wilkes as part of Haden's inaugural season at MACC are sophomore transfers Alexis Singleton, a 5'4 guard form El Paso, Texas, 5-9 guard Rickeisha Sheard of Chicago, and 5'9 guard Kezia Holmes of Warner Robins, Ga.

Freshmen are 5'11 guard Darryn Zeigler of Shaker Heights, Ohio, 5'7 guard Kaysie Newson of East St. Louis, Ill., 5'9 guard Zahra Daniel of Miami, Fla., 5'6 guard Rachel Spencer of Chicago, 5'11 guard Mauricea Mathis of St. Louis, 5'4 guard Vallen Rush of St. Louis, 5'9 guard Chatori Tyler of Summit, Ill., 5'7 guard Shania Liburd of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, , 5'9 guard Taylor-Lawson Hicks of St. Louis, 6'0 forward Danyelle Millett of St. Louis, and 5'9 forward Aquila Anderson of Chicago.

Katelyn Clark, a 6'2 forward from Cahokia, Ill., is a redshirt freshman.

“My staff and I are pleasantly surprised at the player depth that we may have. People are still emerging into roles and they keep surprising us,” Haden said on Monday. “It's too early into our preseason to learn who our top players or starters will likely be. But there are a couple of our girls who we feel have done a good job setting the tone and establishing spots while the rest remains pretty wide open. I think Rickeisha has made a strong showing to be our No. 3 and Mauricea at the No. 4 position. At the guard positions, Alexis, Kaysie and Rachel will all likely see significant playing minutes at one of those positions.”

As a tune-up for the regular season campaign, the Lady Greyhounds have four preseason jamboree dates planned. Jamborees are open to the public, and teams will play multiple scrimmages having two 18-minute halves with a running clock against different colleges.

It begins this Saturday when they travel to Peoria, Ill. and participate in a session held at Illinois Central Community College. Moberly will compete with the host college, Lakeland CC, Ill. and Vincennes University, Ind. that day.

Other jamboree dates are Oct. 13 at Springfield, Mo., Oct. 20 at Lawrence, Kansas and Oct. 25 at University of Missouri-St. Louis.