By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Typically every season, the Ohio Valley Conference basketball coaches would make the trip – most recently to Evansville, Ind., the host site of the conference championship tournament and meet with the media to preview the upcoming season.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, things changed.
Last season, the OVC Basketball Media Day was held virtually, using Zoom and connecting the coaches with conference media from the comfort of their desks and computer screens. Since then, all of the league's media days have followed suit.
On Wednesday, the first day for the OVC Basketball Virtual Media Day as it concludes Thursday, the Tennessee Tech teams had their chance to speak to the media.
With a second-place projection in the preseason poll released on Tuesday and four selections to the Preseason All-OVC team with Kesha Brady, Jordan Brock, Mackenzie Coleman and Anna Jones making the squad, expectations certainly seem to be high.
None higher than the team itself though.
Head coach Kim Rosamond noted that that the team has gone through a lot through the first five seasons. Now entering year six, this season is about making a statement.
"We were establishing a standard," she said. "We were winning in the classroom. We were winning in the community. We were winning in the locker room. We had to learn how to handle expectations. The next step is going from being winners to being THE winners."
The last time the Tennessee Tech women have reached the NCAA tournament is following the 1999-2000 season. Even for a program as historically successful as the Golden Eagles, that's a trend the current team would like to see come to an end.
With the group of super seniors – Brady, Brock, Coleman and Megan Clark – all coming back for another campaign, it stands as their purpose to see the program return to that stage.
"The community and the family at Tennessee Tech made it hard to leave," Coleman said. "I wasn't ready to leave. I put off OT school because I want to do something special with this group of girls. We have unfinished business. I want to hang a banner for these girls, these coaches and this community. It's time."
Rosamond added, "To have all of these super seniors choose to come back to play for a fifth year, it speaks volumes to their loyalty, their love for their teammates and community. They weren't ready for it to end. They are so committed to this program and excited for what lies ahead."
In addition to the veteran leadership, the Golden Eagles have a tremendous level of depth on the 16-player roster, fielding one of the deepest Tech squads in some time – a tremendous contrast to a few seasons ago when they were one of the youngest teams in the country.
The Golden Eagles return a talented group of players with experience with Grace Pelphrey, Jada Guinn, DJ McFarlane, Maaliya Owens, Madison Brady, Peyton Carter and Ansley Hall, while also bringing in an exciting group of newcomers with Chattanooga transfer Anna Walker and freshmen Reagan Hurst, Olivia Koontz and Harley Paynter.
"This is an amazing group," Jones told the OVC media on the call. "It's something I'm really proud to be a part of."
Tech will have a challenging schedule ahead of it with in-state rival Middle Tennessee, Southeastern Conference foes Tennessee and Vanderbilt, as well as Chattanooga, Samford and Western Kentucky, in addition to an already difficult OVC slate. It won't be easy, but the Golden Eagles welcome the challenge.
"This will be the most challenging non-conference schedule we've had," Rosamond said, "but this is also the best team we've had. It is very difficult but I'm excited about it because it will put us where we need to be in March."
Throughout the sessions, Rosamond and her young charges reiterated how special this year's team is, from the bonds together to everything the program has gone through in recent years. Adversity has created opportunity, a chance to learn and a chance to be together.
"In everything, there is an opportunity," Rosamond said. "Even in challenges, opportunity can come from it. With the pandemic last season, we missed the first couple of weeks, but you realize how much of a gift it is to get to play. Sometimes you need to be reminded what the opportunity really is. You look at every day, every practice, everything as a gift.
"Every day is a gift to be able to go down to the court and work with not just these super seniors, but the entire roster. This is a really special team."
The Golden Eagles open their season with an exhibition game next Thursday night against Christian Brothers at 5:30 p.m. The regular season begins on November 9 with a 6 p.m. game against Bethel.
Season tickets for Tennessee Tech basketball are now on sale. Call (931) 372-3940, visit the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or visit TTUsports.com to order.