First-year Missouri Western Women’s Basketball coach Rob Edmisson said his first goal is to establish a commitment to being better. After taking over a team with a losing record of 7-26 and also losing one of the top players who won the title of all-time leading scorer, Edmisson knows his task is not a simple one.
“The program has fallen on some hard times the last four of five years,” Edmisson said. “As a new coach, I understand that turning a program around takes time. We are trying to get kids to understand the time commitment and the effort and sacrifice you have to make to get better.”
Shortly after the coach arrived, big changes were made. The returners on the roster quickly slimmed down from 11 to five: Alicia Bell, Brittany Griswold, Kallie Schoonover, Alex Saxen and KC Clouser. Edmisson defends his player turnover to something necessary to have a successful program.
“We sat down and evaluated every player,” Edmisson said. “Some of the decisions we made were based on kids not making serious progress toward their class work and degree. The other thing we looked at is the style of play. If a player’s skill level does not fit and could not fit the style of play, it’s not fair to them to be in a program where it’s hard for them to be successful.”
Edmisson noted that as a coach he is very intense, demanding and passionate which is something that he feels is vital for a positive turnaround. There’s no excuse for an “off day,” he says.
“I’m not an easy coach to play for. I hold our kids accountable for everything they do.”
Returning player and shooting guard Clouser understands that Edmisson’s strategy is very extreme, but she believes in it and feels that it can bring them success.
“Coach Edmisson’s strategy is relentless and passionate and that really says a lot,” Clouser said. “On the court we definitely are starting to connect. I’m really looking forward to a season full of tenacity and even some dubs (wins).”
Edmisson and his staff recruited numerous additions to the team, including six junior college transfers, all coming from successful programs. One of these players includes Lanicia Lawrence, who lead her junior college team to a record of 36-1, with their only loss being in the Junior College National Championship game. Lawrence started all 37 games averaging 3.92 points per game, 2.95 rebounds, 3.43 assists and 0.97 steals.
Another addition is a 6-3, division 1 transfer from Oklahoma State University, Heather Howard. She has played in two Big 12 championships and the NCAA tournament. Howard played in 20 games her freshman year with Oklahoma State, followed by 31 games her sophomore year and 18 her junior year.
Howard explained that she’s very eager for the season to start and feels Edmisson will help lead the team to victory.
“His passion for the game is just so awesome — it’s contagious,” Howard said. “In practices, if we get yelled at, its almost exciting because we know he is making us better.”
Western will take on the University of Missouri-Kansas City this Friday at 6 p.m. in Kansas City. Conference play will begin at 7 p.m. on Nov. 27 against Quincy University at the MWSU Fieldhouse.