New Year, New TSU Lady Tigers

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Last season wasn’t exactly the most enjoyable season for the Tennessee State Lady Tigers. The team did not win a conference game and along with dealing with Covid issues and restrictions, things just never seemed to flow in the 2020-2021 season. And going into this season, expectations were the Lady Tigers would be better. Well, in 2021-2022, it seems like things are starting to move in the right direction at a rather fast pace.  The Lady Tigers have started 4-0 in the conference along with winning five straight overall as they are now at a record of 9-6 on the season. Their 4-0 start in the conference is their best conference start since 1993-1994. TSU color analyst Will Brown saw them being better but this certainly caught him off guard.

“I knew they would win some games, but I will be honest. I didn’t see them winning more than 12 games this season. I think you’re getting a team that’s been “battle-tested”. The upper classes group of young ladies came from competitive mid-major conferences and have seen everything. The freshman class is talented, I’ve noticed it takes a freshman a few games to get acclimated to D-1 basketball. Not this team some of these young freshmen act like they’ve been here before. “

With all this early success, one thing head coach Ty Evans cannot explain seems to be one of the keys.

“It’s amazing from the time they stepped foot on campus up until now, they have just been a tight-knit group. It is amazing and a joy for me to coach them. They love each other. When you’re coaching basketball and you have a group that loves each other, that’s worth three to five wins right there and I think that is the key.”

The Lady Tigers are a relatively new team this season, as they only returned two players from last year’s team. Despite that, they play with a togetherness of a team that has known each other for a while, consistently lifting each other up, cheering each other on and being in sync with each other on the offensive and defensive end.

One byproduct of them being in sync with each other is the consistent pressure they bring each and every game. Their pressing and often frenetic style wears on their opponents and as the game goes on, they are able to turn teams over, cause confusion and get steals, which they are number one in the nation at coming up with.

“The thing about the way we play, it wears teams down. You don’t see it in the first quarter. You don’t see it in the second quarter. And I tell our kids all the time and I have been telling them this since the end of June when they got here. By the middle of the third quarter, you’ll start to see a difference. A lot of those shots they were taking are a little short. All of a sudden, now you see who really wants to handle the ball because the pressure is relentless and that’s the way we play.”

Along with the pressing and upbeat style of play, another hallmark of this TSU Lady Tigers team so far has been their resiliency. In each game over their six-game winning streak, the Lady Tigers have been down at halftime in many of these games and in some instances, have been down in the fourth quarter. In each of those games, the Lady Tigers showed grit, heart and determination and adjustments as they continued to wear on each opponent as the game went on.

“After the Tennessee Tech win, I was impressed, but now the last few wins to me occurred because this group eventually figures out the opposing team. TSU is a “second half” team. With the team being that way that shows how well TSU adjusts well that’s when you give credit to coach Ty Evans and his coaching staff.”

The success this team is having is directly tied into their connection to each other, their relentless play and their resilience. As of right now, all of those things have them at the top of the OVC.

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