People often assume the Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman High School girls basketball team will play a methodical half-court style of offense and defense when they notice that the Blazers have three starters who are 5-foot-10 or taller.
Therefore, according to coach Chad Hibdon, observers usually are stunned the first time they see how well his entire squad runs the floor.
Blackman opens the KeyBank Holiday Classic against Dayton Chaminade Julienne on Tuesday.
"A lot of times when people see our size, they wonder how well we can get up and down the floor, and it does surprise people when they see how we push the ball and fly to the rim," Hibdon said. "The nice thing is our bigger players are versatile enough to play inside and outside and we don't have to wait to get the ball to our one or two (guards) to push it down the floor, because they're capable of moving it themselves."
Starting for the Blazers are senior center Katie Smith (6-2), senior power forward Amy Duke (6-1), junior forward Kortnay Cox (5-10), junior point guard Chelsey Hall (5-5) and senior wing player Kelsey Nowlin (5-8).
Cox, Duke and Hall are being recruited by several college coaches.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Monica Brown (5-6, guard), Kaitlyn Keen (5-8, guard), Nichole Knight (5-6, guard) and Tiera Norris (5-10, post player), junior Denesa Coffey (5-9, post player), sophomores Chelsee Corder (5-7, guard), Kenadi Killings (5-8, guard), Morgan Miller (6-1, post player) and Amanda Pollock (5-6, guard), and freshmen Micah Norris (5-10, guard) and Sydney Harrod (5-5, guard).
"We like to say the backbone of our team is our defense and rebounding," Hibdon said. "We try to keep relentless pressure on the ball. We do a lot of pressing and trapping, but we play solid half-court defense, too. We're big and we spend a lot of time in practice crashing the boards offensively."
Hibdon is in his sixth season at Blackman, which is in its 11th season of existence. After going 19-58 during Hibdon's first three seasons, the Blazers finished 19-12 and advanced to a state quarterfinal during the 2008-09 season, marking their first state tournament appearance.
Last season, Blackman finished 24-7 after losing in a Division 4AAA regional final, setting the team record for wins in a season.
The Blazers opened this season 7-0.
"We've broken our team record for wins in a season each of the past two years and we think we've got a chance to have one of our better seasons again this year," Hibdon said. "We've had a good start to our season, but we know that we're going to be in for a big test in every game in this tournament."