The Missouri State Lady Bears are coming into the season with a chip on their shoulder after what appeared to be disrespect from other coaches and media members in the preseason poll and all-conference team selections.
The Lady Bears were picked second behind Drake, who the Lady Bears beat twice last season, and not a single member of the team was selected to the preseason all-Conference team.
Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton, known as Coach Mox, told reporters at Missouri State Lady Bears Media Day that the slights were going to fuel the team.
“I think we were a little disrespected, to be honest,” Coach Mox said. “It just adds fuel to the fire. What we have a chip on our shoulder about is not having a single player on the all-conference team.”
“They worked really hard and gotten better,” Coach Mox added. “I guess they’ll just go out there and prove it.”
She added that the players are also being motivated by the slights.
The coach also talked about coming in as a new coach and how she’s bonded with the players and created a sense with them of what she’s expecting from then team.
“We did a lot of bonding individually, lunches…things like that,” Coach Mox said. “I really wanted to invest in them as people. I always say my philosophy is ‘love tough’ and if you establish love with your players, they’ll run through a wall for you when you have to be tough on them.”
The players told OI that one of the things they’re bringing into the season from last year is a confidence of being able to play any team from any school knowing they have a chance to beat them.
“After beating Iowa State, it was the big thing that let us know we can do anything,” sophomore Jasmine Franklin told OI. “Beating Iowa State, beating DePaul…we showed then who we are and not to take us for granted.”
“We don’t have any fear of any other team,” Franklin added. “We know we can play with anyone.”
Coach Mox said that lack of “fear factor” benefits the team.
“We have a tough non-conference schedule,” Coach Mox told OI. “We’re not going into any of those games with a fear factor. We aren’t going to fear anyone, but we will respect them, and we will play hard in every game.”
Senior Alexa Willard told OI that Coach Mox’s approach to the team of getting to know them as people and showing how to “love tough” is helping them all become better players.
“It gives us all a lot of confidence knowing that as long we’re working hard, they’re going to have our back,” Willard said. “They’re going to go to war with us. They really do treat us like family, so they can be tough on us when they need to be.”