Bedell building something ‘very special’ at TCC

Jas Hill is clearly leader of the TCC women’s basketball team.
Photo special to the Outlook

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer

Franqua Bedell, who is doing something remarkable with this year’s version of the women’s basketball team at Tallahassee Community College, really didn’t need more than the five words he used to describe his players.

“This team is very special,” he said.

Not just that. The Eagles are undefeated at 15-0. Yes, it’s a school record and they surpassed the old mark by six games. It’s been 21 years since a TCC team has started a season with such a long winning streak.

They closed out the non-conference portion of the season with an 89-55 victory at home over Chattahoochee Valley Community College of Alabama. The litmus test begins Saturday when TCC opens Panhandle Conference play at Gulf Coast Community College.

Everything that makes this team amazing was on display against the Pirates.

They swatted more than a few passes out of bounds to save a field goal by the Pirates. They struck quickly; like when Jas Hill dropped three straight three-pointers and Jamyra McChristine forced a turnover and converted it for a layup for 11 Eagles’ point in a span of under 30 seconds.

That run put them up 41-23 and even then they fought for every loose ball.

This women’s team knows hustle indeed. And, let’s not forget that they’ve won most of their games by 50 points or more.

After the first quarter the Eagles were up 24-9, marking the 18th time that they held an opponent to single digits in a quarter.

Hill, who all season has been amazing for the Eagles and went into the game as the nation’s leading scorer (24.8 ppg), clearly is leader of the team.

She won’t admit as much, though. “It’s our team and we play together,” is how she explained what’s going on with the Eagles.

But she stands out nonetheless. Just look at her eight three-pointers in each of two games going back to last season for the school record. She came pretty close to doing that again with six against the Pirates.

Bedell still refuses to make everything about Hill. Every other player has a vital role in their success, he insists.

Why, coach?

“I want to have a program where night in and night out when you walk into this gym you know you will have to contribute to this team in some fashion.”

Undisputable when you look at the Eagles’ success. Another part of that is the way Bedell works the sidelines, stressing little on the X’s and O’s of the game.

Take for example when freshman Mari Hill gave up a shot while on defense.

“Stop being so nice,” Bedell hollered across the floor. “Be mean.”

“Those are the kinds of things I feel like you have to coach,” he said. “It has nothing to do with X’s and O’s. At the end of the day, it has everything to do with what mood and engagement your players have.”

It starts with practice and Bedell is grooming his team for a lot. There’s the Panhandle Conference championship and a possible berth to the national championship.

It’s almost as if every regular season game has a championship on the line.

“A lot of mistakes coaches make nowadays are coaches think kids can’t reach the challenge,” he said. “I have to push them; they have to be challenged.”