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First basketball practice in the books for the MTSU Lady Blue Raiders

Coach Rick Insell aims to combine veteran savvy with incoming youth before the season tips off.

By: MTN Sports Reporter Chris Sakacsi | September 28, 2021

Team huddle gives Coach Insell an opportunity to talk progress

Murfreesboro,Tennessee - Today marked the first official practice for the Lady Blue Raiders. Throughout the roughly two-and-half hour practice, Coach Rick Insell and his staff emphasized the fundamentals. Things like footwork, proper screen technique, and never going the same direction with the basketball consecutive times were discussed. The coaching staff also keyed in on taking charges, and not settling for the three-point shot when they could drive down the lane. Coach Insell firmly believes that fundamentals are

what gives players that transition from high school to college an advantage over their competition.

“You come out of high school, and you were THE player in your high school program and travel team. Then you get here and you’re one of the guys. You’re going to play someone as talented as you, and when you do what’s going to give you the edge? Fundamentals,” he said.

When it comes to high school players that are making the jump to the collegiate level, the team welcomes a few standouts. I got the chance to speak with two of them after their first ever college basketball practice.

Gracie Dodgen, a five-foot-ten guard out of White County will be depended on for her absolute flamethrower of a jump shot. Dodgen enters the program with an incredible Tennessee State record of 15 three-pointers in a single game. “It was a very cool experience, and honestly a memory I’ll never forget” she said. I also asked Dodgen if she thought her coaches would let her go for 16, “I hope so, depends on my shooting that day” she chuckled.

Next up was six-foot guard Skye Payne from Alabama. Touted as an ESPN top 100 prospect, Payne already has an impressive resume, as she is one of the rare prospects to play six total years of varsity basketball. Payne played two years varsity as a seventh and eighth grader at Clay-Chalkville in Alabama before moving on to Hewitt-Trussville. I asked how that experience prepared her for collegiate competition. “It helped shape me into the player I am now since I’m not scared to go up against older players,” she said.

Later, Coach Insell shed a few more thoughts on today’s practice. “I’m pretty satisfied, we’ve got some very talented young ladies, and they just have to learn me, what I expect, my terminology, and where we’re going with the ball,” he said.

With starting lineup opportunities still up for grabs, the intensity of these practices will continue to rise as the team shifts to five of them per week.


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