Addae Houston says this season is all about respect.
The new Southwestern Community College coach knows 2012-13 was a trying season. With the midseason resignation of coach Brett Gilcrist, former Orient-Macksburg coach Steve Tussey filled the role on an interim basis.
But it was an uphill battle. Winless through the first semester, Tussey regrouped the team and played a controlled, cohesive style, nearly getting over the hump on more than one occasion.
But, the bottom line was an 0-30 season, and 0-16 in ICCAC Division II play.
Tussey is now at Lenox High School as co-coach with Jesse Cox, and Houston, a former Northwest Missouri State University player and assistant coach, was hired in late March to reassemble the program. He is assisted by Chanel Maxey of Anaheim, Calif., who played at Dixie State University.
Houston’s first experience with SWCC came in helping direct a player to SWCC from his native state of Texas to play for women’s coach Buck Scheel, who ironically, is now an assistant coach at Northwest Missouri State.
Houston does not expect overnight success. But the 32-year-old head coach is demanding a competitive approach from his squad of 10 that includes only two returnees — post player Darian Polson of Des Moines and guard Morgan Knorr of Savannah, Mo.
“Hey, you can only improve,” Houston said. “It’s starting over from scratch. From the administration on down, I know the mission is to get a good foundation going and build upon that and create something good.”
A “culture” must be established to be competitive in a tough league that includes two preseason rated teams in Iowa Central (seventh) and DMACC (11th) as well as longtime power Kirkwood.
“For this team, my definition for success would be for these young ladies to enjoy the college basketball experience,” Houston said. “That doesn’t necessarily equate to winning a ton of games in the first year. But after going through last year, I’ve preached to the new girls, to play harder for those two (returnees) and what they went through. We will compete hard every night.”
He knows a team that went 0-30 won’t be highly respected around the league.
“This year, it’s about gaining back some respect,” Houston said. “A lot of teams will probably think, maybe we can take the night off when we play SWCC. I want us leaving that game, knowing that the other teams realized we’re here to play this year. And that will transition into success for the program.”
Houston worked quickly last spring to put together a roster that includes seven Iowans and three from out of state, including 5-7 guard Rhecia Lee and 5-11 post player J’myrehea Douglas of Port Allen, La.
“I was scrapping to find players anywhere and everywhere,” Houston said. “For the time that we had, I thought we did a pretty good job of getting players to fit into what we want to do.”
Eventually, Houston looks to assemble a roster with enough speed and quickness to play up-tempo and press opponents defensively. This year, he has adjusted to a more controlled tempo offensively, looking to take advantage of fast breaks when the opportunities are presented.
“It’s a matter of understanding what the defense gives us,” Houston said. “We’re looking to be a strong halfcourt defensive team, trying to hold teams under 65 points a game to give us a chance to be successful.”
Polson, who can work inside and outside at 5-11, leads the post brigade. Size and rebounding strength will be bolstered by 6-2 Na Keyia Harris of Des Moines Hoover and the 5-11 Douglas.
Houston calls 5-9 Jordan Williamson and 5-9 Jill Vanderhoof of Villisca “swing players” who are versatile enough to operate inside and outside with their athletic ability. Vanderhoof and Knorr can be 3-point shooting threats, he said.
Knorr will run the team on the perimeter, Houston said. Peyton Russell, from Bedford’s successful program, will be a contributor outside. Lee and Katelynn Sowers of Malvern are other perimeter candidates.
Sophomore Kristin Klocksiem, a cross country runner from Glidden-Ralston, is one of seven dual-sport athletes on the roster. She was a runner at SWCC last year, but not a member of the basketball team.
The Spartans open with three road games, starting with Thursday’s trip to Lamoni against the Graceland JV. The home opener is Nov. 16 against Highland, Kan.
Sophomores — Morgan Knorr, 5-8, Savannah, Mo.; Kristin Klcksiem, 5-9, Glidden; Darian Polson, 5-11, Des Moines.
Freshmen — Na Keyia Harris, 6-2, Des Moines; Jordan Williamson, 5-9, St. Charles; Jill Vanderhoof, 5-9, Villisca; Rhecie Lee, 5-7, Port Allen, La.; J’myrehea Douglas, 5-11, Port Allen, La.; Peyton Russell, 5-9, Bedford; Katelynn Sowers, 5-6, Henderson.
Nov. 7 — at Graceland JV, Lamoni, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 — at North Central Mo., Trenton, Mo., 2 p.m.
Nov. 14 — at Grand View, Des Moines, 7 p.m.
Nov. 16 — vs. Highland (Kan.) CC, 4 p.m.
Nov. 18 — vs. Graceland JV, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 20 — vs. North Central Mo., 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 23 — at Highland (Kan.) CC, 2 p.m.
Nov. 26 — at Central Nebraska (Columbus), 5 p.m.
Nov. 30 — vs. Southeast (Neb.) CC, 1 p.m.
Dec. 2 — vs. Simpson JV, 7 p.m.
Dec. 11 — at Iowa Lakes, Estherville, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 — vs. Iowa Western CC, 1 p.m.
Jan. 4 — at Southeastern CC, Keokuk, 2 p.m.
Jan. 8 — at DMACC, Boone, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 11 — vs. Ellsworth CC, 1 p.m.
Jan. 15 — at Iowa Central CC, Fort Dodge, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 — vs. NIACC, 2 p.m.
Jan. 22 — at Kirkwood CC, Cedar Rapids, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 — vs. Marshalltown CC, 1 p.m.
Jan. 27 — at Simpson JV, Indianola, 7 p.m.
Feb. 1 — vs. Iowa Lakes CC, 1 p.m.
Feb. 5 — at Northeast (Neb.), Norfolk, 5 p.m.
Feb. 8 — vs. Southeastern CC, 2 p.m.
Feb. 12 — vs. DMACC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 — at Ellsworth CC, Iowa Falls, 1 p.m.
Feb. 17 — at Southeast (Neb.), Beatrice, 6 p.m.
Feb. 19 — vs. Iowa Central CC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 22 — at NIACC, Mason City, 1 p.m.
Feb. 26 — vs. Kirkwood CC, 5:30 p.m.
March 1 — at Marshalltown CC, 1 p.m.
March 4 — Region XI Tournament TBD