With eleven new players, three returning players—all of them a good mix of the different classes—the Xavier University of Louisiana Gold Nuggets are like a gumbo, according to the Nuggets’ head coach, Bo Browder.

“It’s like a gumbo,” said Browder. “Once you get it all mixed up and you get it right, it’ll be pretty darn good—and hopefully our gumbo is done by the end of the season.”

Currently sitting in their gumbo are five freshman—Maya Trench, Rosie Davis, Essence Wells, Jalyn Hodge and Gina Smith—three sophomores—Mikayla Bates, Jayla Nichols, and Ireyon Keith—two juniors—Jordan Coleman and Angelle Simon—and three seniors—Bianca Brown, Kelsey Singleton, and Kelsey Joseph.

So far, Browder’s gumbo has them sitting at a .667 winning percentage with an overall record of 12-6. The Nuggets are 8-1 at home, 3-2 away, 1-3 at neutral arenas, and 3-0 in conference play. They have a winning streak of six games, and they recently beat Edward Waters College’s Lady Tigers 59-46.

“It’s January, and they have to play a certain way,” said Browder. “And I think they’re starting to play that way.”

First Half of the Season

The Gold Nuggets started off the 2016-17 season on a good note—with a 70-57 win over Florida Memorial Nov. 4 in the Convocation Center; and, as 2016 came to a close Dec. 31, the Gold Nuggets found themselves ending the year the same way—with a  78-42 win over Dallas Christian College in Dallas, Texas.

After their first win, the Nuggets won two more, one against Webber International at home and another against Our Lady of the Lake College in the Louisiana State University in Shreveport Classic. The Nuggets then went on to lose five straight before regaining their footing and winning Nov. 22 on the road against William Carey.

“It [this season] has been a work in progress,” Browder said “ because we had 11 new players.”

The Nuggets finished the rest of the first half of the season 5-1. University of Louisiana at Lafayette gave them their only loss, a 55-74 showing in which Nugget’s player Ross scored 18 points and Wells and Bell both added nine.

One of the most disappointing parts of the first half of the season to Browder was that the Nuggets lost two overtime games he felt they were supposed to win—one a 52-59 loss against Carroll Nov. 19 and the other a 61-62 loss against Rocky Mountain Nov. 20.

“We played both games really good,” Browder said. “One mistake cost us the game when we could’ve won.”

However, Browder said that the Nuggets went on the road and beat the number three ranked team at the time, which showed him that the team could really play.

“The whole team played extremely well. They stayed focus,” Browder said. “They stayed together.”

It was the game against Langston University, however, that showed Browder just how well the Nuggets could play. The Nuggets beat the Lions 75-72 in the Nuggets’s Thanksgiving Classic Nov. 25. Four Nuggets players scored in double digits—Ross, Singleton, Bell, and Davis. Ross led all Nuggets players with 18 points.

According to Browder, the Nuggets shot the ball really well, passed the ball around great, and were just in “sync” as a team.

“That’s a game I remember thinking I could really see the penitential we had in the team,” Browder said.

Break out Players

“The freshman have been playing like freshman,” Browder said. “They’ll play good some games, and the others they’ll struggle, but that’s just what they do.”

One freshman, though, Browder thought was having a break-out first half the season.

Through 18 games, Trench, a freshman point guard, is leading all Nuggets’s scorers with 6.8 points. She has 2 blocks and 49 steals so far this season. Browder said Trench is one of the most consistent players on the Nuggets’s team.

“She affects the games in a lot of ways,” Browder said. “She plays both ends of the court.”

According to Browder, Trench has been a solid player for the Nuggets, and he’s happy to have her on the team.

Another player Browder had praise for was Bates.

Bates, a sophomore, has done a good job of improving her game to be more consistent on the offensive end, according to Browder.

“She’s a good defensive player, but she’s been more consistent on the offensive end also,” Browder said.

Last season, Bates, a guard, averaged 4.1 points per game through 28 of the 34 games the Nuggets played. She shot 34 percent from the field, 28 percent from behind the arc, and she shot 65 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, she averaged 41 steals and 1 block.

This season, Bates is shooting 37 percent from the field, 34 percent from behind the arc, and 64 percent from the free throw line. She has 0 blocks and 27 steals.

As for the rest of the team, Browder is pleased with how they adjusted to working together and the effort they put out.

Second Half 

So far into the second half of the season, the Nuggets have won all four of their games—a 52-40 showing against Paul Quinn; a 72-59 win against Tougaloo; a 73-60 offensive showing against Southern University at New Orleans; and a 59-46 battle against Edward Waters College. Tougaloo, SUNO, and EWC are all a part of the Gulf Coast Atlantic Conference with the Nuggets.

The first half of the season was about adjustments for Browder and the Nuggets. However, there’s only one thing Browder thinks the Nuggets need to do in order to become unbeatable—have their post players play well.

And you can quote him on this:

“If Kelsee Singleton, Angelle Simon, and Bianca Brown play well, it’s going to be real difficult for us to lose a ball game,” Browder said.

According to Browder said it’s because the post players takes a little of the pressure off the freshman, and the Nuggets are able to get more done.

“If they [the post players] play well, the Gold Nuggets will have an outstanding season the rest of the way,” Browder said.

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