Former Westover star Latisha Williams, right, works out during Albany Tech’s practice Wednesday at Turner Gym. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY -- Two years ago in their inaugural season, the Albany Tech Lady Titans finished with a respectable 11-15 record. Last year, the Lady Titans turned into a winning team, finishing 20-12.
This season, Albany Tech could very well be "unstoppable."
That's the way they were talking Wednesday in Turner Gym as they had their final practice before today's season opener on the road against Gordon College.
It was during a similar practice earlier in the preseason when Shakima Wiggins remembers her coach telling the youthful Lady Titans that they could be "unstoppable" this season.
Wiggins, one of only a handful of sophomores on the junior college squad, also remembers agreeing with coach Kenneth Williams.
"Once we start playing as a team, we will be unstoppable," Wiggins said. "(Coach Williams) even said that, but I was thinking it to myself, too."
Other than Wiggins, a transfer from Georgia Perimeter, and returning starter Bianca Fennessee from Chicago, there isn't much experience on the Lady Titans' roster. But that hasn't stopped Williams from expecting big things out of his program, which is in just its third year of existence.
"In the preseason, they've been playing like freshmen," admitted Williams, whose team went 2-7 in preseason games with wins against Middle Georgia Tech and Faulkner State Community College. "We are going to be slow coming around. We have a lot of freshmen, so it will take a while for us to jell. Once we do jell, I think we will be OK. We will be able to contend for the region title."
More than half of Albany Tech's 14-player roster are freshmen, including Westover grad Latisha Williams, Dougherty grad Jasmine Lavant and Calhoun County grad Gabrielle Christopher, who will all be key bench players at the beginning of the season.
"It's a good opportunity for us (because there are so many freshmen)," Lavant said. "We all go hard at practice. I was a little nervous at first, but I got used to it. It was a little faster than high school, but I adjusted to it."
But Latisha Williams insists that being a freshman isn't necessarily a bad thing -- especially at the junior college level.
"It doesn't mean anything being a freshman," Latisha Williams said. "That's just what we are in college. It's about the experience you have on the court, and with the experience we have and if we put that together we can have a championship team."
That "championship" season starts on the practice floor, and Wiggins said that's where her new teammates need to improve.
"When it's time to get on the court, everybody needs to focus," Wiggins said. "We need to get disciplined and stop the playing and talking."
When the Lady Titans do get more focused and disciplined on the practice floor, Wiggins knows how dangerous her team can be.
"We have a couple of us who like to run, and when we play someone who isn't a running team, we will kill them," Wiggins said. "Once we get everything down pat, I think we will be unstoppable."
Wiggins will be joined in the starting lineup by Fennessee, Nicole Walden, Quineka Moffett and Keondra Greer. A fourth former Southwest Georgia prep star -- sophomore Tiffany Harris from Westover -- will come of the bench along with Latisha Williams and Lavant.
"We are extremely blessed to be in this area where there is a lot of local talent. Every now and then we are able to capture some of that local talent, and we I think we did this year," Kenneth Williams said. "Jasmine is probably one of the most athletic players I have on the team. As far as running the floor and jumping, she is above everybody.
"Once her basketball IQ catches up to her athleticism, she will be awesome. From (point guard) to (power forward), Latisha could play anywhere on the court for us."
Tip-off for tonight's season opener is scheduled for 7 p.m., while the Lady Titans will open up at home Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. against West Georgia Tech and play all of their games in Albany at Albany State's HPER Gym.