Sacred Heart

While the Sacred Heart Lady Tigers are younger this season, their hopes and expectations are much higher than last year.

Head coach Tom Harrington said the first week and a half of the season have been very smooth.

“There were seven or eight new freshmen that are new to this kind of a program and they have had a huge learning curve,” Harrington said. “And they learned a lot faster than previous classes. I think we just changed our teaching, but that went really well. They’re super athletic kids. I think we’re going to be a really good year.”

Harrington said the younger players should breed a stronger competition for the entire team.

“They’re going to get opportunities,” Harrington said. “They’re putting a lot of pressure on the older girls for playing time, so that’s obviously bringing everybody’s level play up considerably.”

The Lady Tigers will be installing a new offense this season and while some teams have played games already, Sacred Heart hasn’t played yet.

As a result, the Lady Tigers have had more time to hone their skills.

“It’s especially good since the girls that are new to the program have to run a new kind of offense like a 6-2, so they have no idea where to be on the court,” Harrington said. “They’ve relied on the athleticism so far so it was really, really good that we had the extra time because we were able to teach them how to run the offense,” Harrington said. “They’re not 100% yet, but we’re a lot better and a lot more prepared than we were last year.”

When the regular season games finally do start, Harrington said he is looking forward to learning more about how his team deals with adversity.

“It gives us a measure of where we are,” Harrington said. “It’s for sure be a good thing to tell us what we need to work on most because playing against each other and stuff is good and drills are good, but you don’t really know what you need to work on until you play against other teams.”

With the offense still under construction, Harrington said the Lady Tigers will lean on their defense early on in the season.

“I think we’re not as tall as a team, so we’re gonna have to rely on defense,” Harrington said. “Our offense isn’t putting the ball down 100% of the time. Our defense is pretty good and it’s because the girls are a lot better at not wanting to see the ball hit the ground.”

Harrington said he is reminding his team that it is a long season and they will be tested early.

“There’s only one girl on this team that plays club and the majority of other schools have a lot of kids that play club and that shows for sure,” Harrington said. “We also tell these girls that what happens in August and September doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. October is when we play all our district stuff so we’ve gotta try everything now and then we’ll fine tune it and figure out what works.”

Patrick Hayslip can be reached at sports@gainesvilleregister.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip