Gonzales ready for the challenge
It’s 690 miles to Lubbuck, Texas.
No, that’s not where new LSU Eunice womens basketball head coach Jamie Gonzales is from – it’s where he wants the Lady Bengals to play in the NJCAA Div. I national tournament.
“I realistically think we can reach the national tournament,” he said. “With the people on the roster, I think we can make it there.”
Gonzales is the fifth head coach in Lady Bengals program history replacing Amanda Clemons who is now an assistant coach at McNeese State University.
“What Coach Amanda accomplished going undefeated the past two seasons in Louisiana says a lot about LSUE and the ability to get the right kids in here and do what it takes to win.”
LSUE has won back-to-back conference championships and advanced to the regional tournament.
“The biggest thing that contributed to me wanting to be here was the success that baseball and softball has had,” he said. “That’s proof right there that LSUE has everything necessary to win.”
Gonzales said he is committed to the sophomores who are returning.
“I want to fulfill the commitment that LSUE has with those kids.”
Claralee Richard (Sulphur) and Ava Jones (Carencro) are the two who stand out the most as far as the returners, according to the coach.
“We will also have freshmen that Coach Clemons signed: Eunice High’s Stacie White as well as Diamond Brister and Robin Turner from Lake Arthur.”
Gonzales admitted that in junior college athletics, constant recruiting comes with the job.
“If you ask most folks what am I known for, it’s my ability to recruit,” he said. “We have signed three very good basketball players since I took the job and we are going to win some ball games with them.”
Gonzales said he expects his teams to play well on defense and push the ball on offense.
“We are going to try an push the tempo,” he said “It depends what can the kids do.
“We are going to try and score fast and play a lot of full court defense when means we have to be in condition and a lot of people are going to play.”
Gonzales said he is excited about the upcoming season and possibilities it brings.
He was an assistant coach at Odessa College in 2016-17 when they advanced to the Elite Eight in the tournament.
“That is my ultimate goal – to get this program to the national tournament.”
The Lady Bengals finished fourth in the national tournament in 2007 under head coach Michael Bari.
The Lady Bengals squad reports Aug. 18 but Gonzales said he expects them to work out this summer and be ready for the first practices.
“It is important for these kids to get to know each other,” he said. “Basketball ability is already there but we need them to get along, play well together and want to win for each other.
“We are all going to be new to each other and coaches and players so we need to build a cohesiveness as fast as we can.”
Gonzales said he is ready for the upcoming season and the challenging schedule.
“The schedule was pretty much done when I got here but I some more games to an already tough schedule,” he said.
“We face seven teams who finished in the Top 25 last year,” he said. “But we need to be tested before the regional tournament.
“Strength of schedule could play a factor in being selected as an at-large bid if we lose in the regional championship game – we want to be one of the best 32 teams in the nation.”
Gonzales said he is looking forward to defending the Lady Bengals’ consecutive conference titles.
“I have never experienced playing in a smaller conference,” he said. “It makes it harder to fill a schedule but we are looking forward to challenges the other teams will bring to us.
“We will be the team to beat again this year.”
Gonzales said his coaches who helped shape his life is the reason he is coaching today.
“I was in the Army for eight years and the similarity between college and the army is the kids are the same age,” he said. “The good thing about it is you helping those kids figure out their direction in life.”
Gonzales said he is in the process of adding assistant coaches and the announcement should be made soon.