Anwar Gladden wants to change the culture of South Shore girls basketball. If the Vikings don’t accomplish anything else this year, the coach wants to alter his team’s reputation.
Simply, he doesn’t want South Shore to be thought of as a squad with talent and nothing else.
“I want more respectability on an academic scale,” Gladden said. “We’ve always had individual talent. We want to start becoming a program. … That’s what Nazareth is and what St. Mike’s used to be. That’s what Christ the King is. That’s what Mary Louis is. They’re programs. Bishop Ford. St. John the Baptist. When we become a program, then you’ll see the talent come out.”
South Shore returns seven players, including star Jasmine Odom, from a team that was one of the deepest and best in the PSAL last year. It adds Francis Lewis transfer Tatiana Wilson, a pure scorer, who will be eligible since she moved from Queens to Brooklyn. Gladden will also have four solid freshmen on the roster.
But he doesn’t want to talk about anyone on an individual basis.
“There’s nothing really standing out to talk about,” Gladden said. “We’ve gotta become a program — not just a basketball team with a lot of talent. That’s the stage that we’re at. Everyone knows we’re gonna have talent every year.”
Odom is one of the top seniors in the city and has the ability to take over a game with her scoring, as well as her ability to create for teammates. Junior forward Fannisha Price is a load inside and has a sweet touch in her jump shot. Junior wing Jenice Winter is long, athletic and skilled and sophomore Aliyah Cooley is a rising star with a deadly 3-point shot. Then there are girls like Shelby Powell, Radasha Pope, Akiah Luceus and Aurellia Cammock who all gained valuable experience playing on a team that went to the PSAL Class AA semifinals.
Despite what the Vikings look like on paper, Gladden doesn’t know how they will be this year. He thinks any talk of them challenging powerhouse Murry Bergtraum for a city title are extremely premature.
“We’re just going day by day, practice by practice, class by class,” he said. … “We have to start playing together, pushing each other to get better. Once we start playing as a team, we’ll be better for it.”
South Shore opens up against Bishop Ford and has a brutal non-league schedule featuring teams like Shabazz, University (N.J.), DePaul Catholic (N.J.) and two good squads down at the Breezy Bishop Classic in Maryland.
Gladden should find out rather quickly whether or not all the ability translates into a successful team. The goals right now, though, have nothing to do with wins and losses.
“Play together,” Gladden said. “Play hard, play defense and be student-athletes where there are no off the court issues distracting us. … We’re just breaking it down and not looking too far ahead. And we’re definitely not looking back.”