The fall season is upon us, and that can only mean one thing: Salt Lake Community College basketball is back.
However, a new face will be leading the women’s basketball team.
When longtime SLCC women’s basketball coach Betsy Specketer announced her retirement last spring after 25 seasons with a 545-196 record, Bruin Director of Athletics Kevin Dustin didn’t have to look far for a replacement. Local Copper Hills High School star and former Bruin, Marcilina Grayer, was tabbed for the head chair.
Grayer played two seasons under Specketer and worked as an assistant coach on the Bruin staff for the previous six seasons.
“It didn’t really hit me until the week before the girls got here,” Grayer says of her new head coach title. “Coach Specketer was getting me ready for the position, and I was already doing everything that I did this summer.”
On the court, the Bruins will only have four players return from last season.
“This year, we’re really young,” notes Grayer. “The only girl that really played for us last season was Hazel [Fu], and she’s injured right now.”
A lack of experienced sophomore leadership could lead to some growing pains early in the season.
“Grayer is tough and strong,” says Paul Marble, assistant athletic director. “She was taught by the best, so she has a running start. If her players grab onto her passion and desire, they will be great.”
Grayer is confident that the camaraderie she has seen from this group can carry them through their overall lack of experience.
“We’re really athletic, and of all the teams we’ve had, this is the closest knit group of girls we’ve had,” says Grayer.
The Bruins will rely heavily on several new players this season, beginning with Swedish point guard Fatoumata Jallow.
“Originally, I recruited her as a two-guard, but she’s going to fill that point guard role for us,” says Grayer. “She’s really athletic. She’s also left-handed but prefers to drive with her right, which makes her really hard to guard.”
Another player for Bruin fans to keep an eye on is Awa Sidibe out of Bamako, Mali.
“She’s just a raw athlete,” Grayer says of Sidibe. “She can touch the rim and is a super athlete.”
Grayer anticipates running an offense similar to last season, while taking advantage of what she expects will be an athletic advantage over most opponents.
“Defensively, I want to press a little bit more due to the talent level we have,” Grayer says.
Grayer believes her team can excel athletically with their length and quickness, and is excited about having multiple scorers on offense, in contrast to recent seasons where the offense was focused on one or two players.
The 2019-20 season begins on the road Nov. 1 when the Bruins take on Central Wyoming College in Rock Springs. Grayer is hoping a difficult early-season schedule will challenge her team and get them ready for the national tournament.
“We go to Texas and New Mexico early in the year for tournaments against some top junior college programs,” Grayer says. “It’s going to open up our girls’ eyes early and give us time to learn how we can adapt to tough situations. I’m excited about the preseason, but it’s going to challenge us.”
Bruins fans will get their first opportunity to see the new team Nov. 29 against Eastern Wyoming College at the Lifetime Activities Center on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.