Plaisance hopes renewed health helps Colonels in standings

Riley wants to see massive leap forward in Year 2
October 25, 2017
Autumn questions, autumn answers
October 25, 2017
Riley wants to see massive leap forward in Year 2
October 25, 2017
Autumn questions, autumn answers
October 25, 2017

Last year, the Nicholls State University women’s basketball team was battered, bruised and beat up.

By the end of the season, the Colonels’ roster was so injury depleted that coach DoBee Plaisance had sometimes just six or seven available players to turn to in games.

But the bruises have healed and injured players are now healthy.

With a rejuvenated roster filled with both returnees and incoming recruits, the Colonels believe it’s time to shine.

Expectations are high for Nicholls after a year which fell short of Plaisance’s expectations last year.

Last week at Southland Conference Media Day, the coach said the Colonels learned a lot about adversity last year and will be better able to compete against the powerhouse teams in the league.

“(Last year) was an opportunity,” Plaisance said. “I called last year’s team our first responders because we were hit with some adverse situations. But they were so courageous and they turned it into opportunities and at the end of the day, I think we overachieved. It might not show statistically all of the time. But with those kids, it was never a dull moment.”

This year’s team figures to be better.

Nicholls returns several key players off last year’s team, which finished 10-20 overall, including a 7-11 record in Southland Conference games.

One of those returnees is Raceland native and Vandebilt Catholic graduate Cassidy Barrios, who enjoyed a big sophomore season last year for the Colonels.

Barrios averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Colonels, either leading the team or ranking near the top for Nicholls in virtually every statistic.

With an offseason to get better, Plaisance said she thinks Barrios will be able to further evolve into a star this season. The coach said Nicholls has some added depth this season, as well, which will allow Barrios to play in places where she’s more comfortable, as opposed to last season when the team was so injury depleted.

“Her leadership has grown by leaps and bounds. We’re so, so excited about seeing what she will be able to do this season,” Plaisance said. “She can light up the scoreboard. She can do a lot of positive things. We know she’s ready to lead this team.”

The Colonels also have Tia Charles back – a talented guard who has played for the past few seasons, but has been severely limited with a couple bulky knees.

Plaisance said Charles rested this offseason and is now healthier than she’s ever been. The coach said that is a luxury that Nicholls will enjoy heavily, because when 100 percent right, Plaisance believes that Charles has the ability to be one of the best players in the Southland Conference.

“This is as healthy as she’s been,” Plaisance said. “Whatever doesn’t kill you in life makes you better and Tia is at the core of our leadership right now. … Tia is the vocal leader of that group and we’re really excited for her comeback. Even though she didn’t sit out, she’s battled the last two years with knee (injuries) and we’re praying she’s good this year. Rock solid. She’s a competitor.”

But what will be a big factor for the Colonels is youth and how well the team can overcome having it.

Nicholls has just two seniors in 2017-18 and also just four players total who are upperclassmen. The vast majority of Nicholls’ roster – 10 players – are freshmen or sophomores.

“We have a lot of babies,” Plaisance said. “We need a lot of leadership from our upperclassmen because they have a lot of younger players to lead.”

They have a tough schedule to contend with, too.

Nicholls opens its season on Nov. 10 at SMU and the team will be heavily challenged throughout its non-conference schedule in advance to starting Southland on Dec. 28.

In addition to the SMU game, Nicholls will play at LSU and at Iowa State – matchups which will pit the Colonels against a couple teams expected to be in the NCAA Tournament.

The premiere matchup for the Colonels is a home date against Baylor on Dec. 18 – the rare occasion that the women’s basketball powerhouse travels for a road game against a smaller program.

Plaisance said landing Baylor in Thibodaux is a huge get for Nicholls, adding that the game is something that’s already generating buzz around the community – months before the game is played.

How bout’ them Baylor Bears coming to Thibodaux? We’re really excited. Kim Mulkey and their bunch are doing a great job. I love Kim. Kim and I go back a long way. I think it’s going to be great – not only for Nicholls, but for the Thibodaux community. They’ve got some Louisiana flavor, along with Kim, a home girl from Hammond, Louisiana, so we’re really excited about that and really, we’re just excited about the season as a whole.”

DoBee Plaisance

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