The Gold Nuggets finished their 2014- 2015 season 18-15 with one less senior. This season, the Nuggets have six seniors, five new players, and a will to make this season special.
One way the Nuggets are making this season special is by focusing on defense.
“We are trying to become a better defensive team. In the past, we would be ranked top ten defensively in the NAIA, and recently we’ve dropped,” said the Nugget’s head coach, Bo Browder.
Browder believes the Nuggets have plunged from the top 10 in defense to the top 25—a ranking the Nuggets are not excited about it. They want to be ranked top five defensively.
In the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the Nuggets rank 44 in blocks per game; 36 in defensive rebounds per game; 13 in total steals; and 23 in scoring defense per game. Their opponents score an average of 60.79 points
“We like to be ranked top five in a defensive stand-point and hold teams under 50 points,” said Browder.
To increase their defensive capabilities and ensure they hold opponents under 50 points, the Nuggets have four new freshman: Mikayla Bates from University High; Jordan Lawrence, a walk-on from Red Oak; Kiera Robinson from Mansfield Summit; and Joi Simmons from North Forest.
“We brought in a great freshman class,” said Browder.
Bates is a point guard/ two-guard that won backto-back state championships at University High that can really help the Nuggets on the defensive end. Lawrence is a “defensive specialist” that can really defend on the perimeter. Robinson is a forward/post player that can run the four, and play outstanding defense. Simmons is a 5’9 guard that can “really play,” according to Browder.
The Nuggets are also taking other measures to ensure they continue their mission and legacy of winning. One way is by bringing former players in as volunteer assistant coaches. This has helped the current players get more weight room time, get more player development time, and it has even helped the players get a better understanding of what the Xavier tradition is about.
Another part of making this season special will be competing against Dillard and Southern University of New Orleans, two teams in the Nuggets’s conference that give them the “most problems,” according to Browder.
The Nuggets are already off to a good start—they have been picked first to win the GCAC tournament for the sixth consecutive season, and senior Whitney Gathright was picked to the five member all-GCAC team. Donyeah Mayfield received an honorable mention.
However, while this is an honor, neither the Nuggets nor Gathright are really focused on the selection.
“Seniors don’t really get caught up with individual awards,” said Browder. “They are more concerned with how they are going to end their career. We’ll worry about those awards at the end of this year.”
The rest of the Nuggets 2015-16 roster includes: seniors Gathright; Emoni Harvey; Trana Hopkins; Mayfield; PersonHampton; and Alesha Smith; juniors Bianca Brown; Amani Davis; Aaliyah Dunbar; Kelsey Joseph; and Kelsee Singleton; and sophomores Jasmine Bush and Ireyon Keith.
The Nuggets kick off their season at home on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. vs LeMoyne-Owen.
When coming to the game, fans should expect “a lot of energy and passion,” said Harvey
The Nuggets are used to winning, and this season won’t be any different.