What would it be like to lead your team to a perfect season? It’s an accomplishment most athletes only dream about. Few collegiate basketball players other than the women at the University of Connecticut know how it feels to have an undefeated year. This year, USF happens to have one such competitor on its roster in Anedra Gilmore.
Gilmore’s life has been anything but dull; last year she and her teammates from Gulf Coast Community College claimed the National Junior College Athletic Association championship.
“At Gulf Coast, we had a desire to win,” Gilmore said.
The desire paid off. The Lady Commodores ended with a perfect record, 35-0. Gilmore averaged 6.8 points and 3.3 assists per game, while shooting 73.3 percent from the free-throw line. She said she hopes her desire to win affects her new teammates in a similar manner.
Gilmore brings a strong court presence to USF because of her quick speed and ability to envision the floor. As a point guard, these are crucial skills to possess.
The transition hasn’t been effortless for the former All-Panhandle Conference member, however. Apart from the heightened intensity of play, Gilmore struggles with the differences in coaching styles. USF coach Jose Fernandez is sometimes absent from practices due to recruiting trips, a large part of his job. Instead of the constant one-on-one attention she is used to, Gilmore now faces several different coaches with various approaches to the game.
Ultimately, she said, they are attempting to be the image of the head coach, but it doesn’t always work that way.
“It’s kind of hard because you don’t know which way to go. I’m still trying to learn a little bit of that this year,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore is also adjusting to the differences in Fernandez’s coaching style, as compared to her guidance at Gulf Coast.
“I’ve learned it’s easier to play for coaches that you’ve already been around. I think I was coming in here thinking it was already going to be together, and I see that I’ve got to fit into a puzzle, whereas at Gulf Coast I was already in that puzzle,” Gilmore said.
The puzzle remains to be finished. After losing four consecutive Conference USA games, the Bulls finally put an end to their losing streak by beating Saint Louis 68-51. However, the women lost their next game to conference foe Memphis. As a team, they have not won two consecutive road games since the 1998-1999 season.
On the court, Gilmore does not seem concerned with the impending challenges. She is ranked third in C-USA in assists, averaging 5.19 per game. She also averages 6.1 points and seems to have a strong hold on the starting point guard position. She also scored a career-high 17 points in Monday’s win against No. 18 TCU.
Gilmore’s personal goal for the season is the fundamental challenge of building relationships with her teammates.
“I have to know everyone and be able to play with them. I’m trying to get the feel of where they’re going to be, how they play and everything,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore is also adjusting to the novelty of coming up short on the scoreboard.
“It’s hard to think positive sometimes, but it goes both ways. It’s all about attitude. If one person’s down, you have to have someone else to step up. That’s the biggest difference I see,” Gilmore said.
Her attitude seems to be quite positive, yet realistic.
“If I know all the girls come out and they give it their all, then I’m fine with that. When we don’t put everything in, that’s when I’m more upset. Losing hurts anybody,” Gilmore said.
There is still hope for the conference tournament in March. It is by no means impossible, but the task won’t be easy. Regardless of the outcome, Gilmore believes this year is just the starting point of next season.
“We are starting to form a better chemistry. I know next year a lot of things will be different since we will have played together for a whole year. We are rebuilding,” Gilmore said.
But one common goal continues to propel the team forward.
“All of us want to win. That’s what holds us together,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore and the Bulls travel to Cincinnati tonight at 7 to face the Bearcats before heading to Louisville to face the Cardinals on Sunday at 2 p.m.