Johnson welcomes greater role with Lady Bulldogs
Diamber Johnson understands how difficult being a starting point guard can be in Southeastern Conference women's basketball.
As one of the four returning lettermen for the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs this season, Johnson will be looked upon to assume more responsibility.
Johnson welcomes the opportunity and doesn't plan to put any added pressure on herself.
"I've played enough and have enough experience that I'm willing and ready to carry on the role I have this year," Johnson said.
The Pontotoc native has played in 66 career games and has started five times. Last season, Johnson averaged 4.1 points per game and dished out 73 assists.
She wants to make enough plays during the 2010-11 season to help MSU and take pressure off the team's lone returning starter Mary Kathryn Govero.
"There will be a lot of folks on M-Kat so my job and everyone else's is to prove that we're not a one-dynamic kind of team," Johnson said.
The Lady Bulldogs will primarily have a new look with seven juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. MSU women's coach Sharon-Fanning Otis told reporters during a Media Day press conference on Monday that the program is moving forward and there will be no excuses.
"The kids are learning the system and they've got to get tougher," Fanning-Otis said. "We've got to find a way to win with the several combinations we plan to use."
Johnson and Govero are two of three Mississippians on the roster. The other is freshman guard Candace Foster of Jackson.
Scrimmage was a time for evaluation
Fanning-Otis put her team through a closed scrimmage last Sunday and Johnson was actually surprised with how everyone has picked up the system.
Despite having so many newcomers, Johnson said the scrimmage appeared to flow smoothly.
"I thought (it would be tough) because all of the plays and everything I knew they had a problem with, but they came out there and the issues I thought would be there are not there," Johnson said. "We looked more as a team (Sunday)."
Fanning-Otis was able to get a good look at the Lady Bulldogs.
"We were able to see balance and different looks," Fanning-Otis said. "As a staff, we need to do a good job of finding out what substitutions are going to be and the depth of it."
Johnson used the term "crazy" while considering how far MSU has come and expects more progress in the coming days.
"At the beginning, the chemistry isn't going to be perfect, but that's what these early games are for," Johnson said. "It can be good by the time January comes. By then, we'll all be on the same page."
The Lady Bulldogs get back on the court for preseason play on Sunday when they host Montevallo in an exhibition game at 2 p.m.
Busy Monday for Fanning-Otis
On top of Media Day responsibilities for Fanning-Otis, her Monday schedule began with noon visit with the Starkville Rotary Club at the Starkville Country Club.
Fanning-Otis shared her views on the upcoming team, the schedule and the exciting things going on around campus from everything dealing with the success of the football team to the new practice facility being constructed next door to Humphrey Coliseum.
"You make a difference," Fanning-Otis said. "We've got that brand new building next door that we'll get into in April. You gave the key bucks so that was very special to us and all of our Bulldogs. We'll hope you'll be able to share the season with us."
Newsome to join team after volleyball
There will be one more senior joining Govero at some point this month.
After her commitment to the volleyball team is complete, Ashley Newsome will take the basketball court.
Govero says Newsome's reputation as a strong volleyball player should help her contribute in basketball.
"She's a hard worker and a good athlete all around, obviously volleyball brings a lot of jumping and strength that she can provide inside," Govero said. "We're excited to have her join us after her season. Right now, we're happy to support her with her volleyball season."
Newsome was a highly-recruited high school basketball player out of Florence, Ala., but it has been a while since she has played the hoops game.
"She's mature, but she hasn't played basketball," Fanning-Otis said. "She's a good athlete and good up and down the floor."