Archdeacon: Flyers coach: Bohanon is ‘the heart and soul of our team’

Credit: Erik Schelkun

Credit: Erik Schelkun

The nails looked better than the numbers.

After Saturday’s 76-60 loss to Detroit Mercy at UD Arena, Tamika Williams-Jeter stood outside her Dayton Flyers’ dressing room for six or seven minutes trying in vain to dissect her team’s shooting woes for the second straight game.

To lighten the moment as she was about to leave, I pointed to her long, bright blue fingernails:

“Well, at least your nails looked good today!”

The coach managed a laugh, but then shook her head:

“Naah, not when you get up close to them.

“It’s kind of like the Mona Lisa.”

When you get up close to the iconic 16th century portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, you see Mona Lisa’s smile, her face, everything, is cracked.

Some say, what do you expect? The oil painting on poplar wood is over 500 years old. Decay is natural.

Others believe the cracks were put there on purpose to allow the artwork to “breathe” and continue to be the inspiration it is today.

As for the Flyers – who have started the season 1-3 – it’s not when they’re up close that you see their cracks. It’s from long range where their problems are most evident.

Saturday, UD made just one of its 14 3-point attempts.

That’s 7.1 percent!

Two days earlier, they made only five of their 21 3-point hoists in a 67-61 loss at Ohio University.

Even in their lone victory this season – against Lindenwood, a program that’s in just its second year of Division I status – they went 2-for-9 from 3-point range.

“We just have to make some shots to open up the floor,” Williams-Jeter said. “Now people are just packing the paint and taking away our post play and our high low game.

“This is a game of runs, so we have to start making shots.”

She said she thought it’s become a confidence thing with her outside shooters and noted how some are suddenly giving two and three fakes before they launch, rather than just squaring up and letting fly.

She talked about making some changes to shooting drills in practice and stressed how, when your shot doesn’t fall, you must find other ways to score, as did senior guard Destiny Bohanon on Saturday.

Although she went 1 for 5 from long range, she drove the lane and often got fouled and made all four of her free throws. She finished with a team-high 19 points.

The team’s best long-range shooter, Ivy Wolf, went 0 for 6 and Arianna Smith went 0 for 2. Freshman Riley Rismiller and Denika Lightbourne went a combined 1 for 9 from two-point range.

When she met with her players behind closed doors Saturday, one thing Williams-Jeter stressed was that they “stick together as a team.”

No one wants a repeat of last season when the short-handed Flyers finished 7-21.

The MVP of last year’s team and the workhorse game after game after game is Bohanon.

She’s the one player Williams-Jeter can look to pull the rest together.

She’s in her fifth season at UD, though the first one was spent in street clothes as a medical redshirt. By the time she suited up for the Flyers in the fall of 2020, she’d already overcome three knee surgeries.

She has her degree now and is working on her masters, while also being active on the campus and the community.

“She’s the heart and soul of our team,” Williams-Jeter said. “She plays hard every possession. She has a very high basketball IQ and understands the game.

“The other players really look up to her and respect her because she does well in the classroom, is a great person off the court and she’s a real warrior on it.

“She has a lot of miles on that body, but she still plays nearly every minute of every game.”

On Saturday, Bohanon played just over 36 minutes, the most by a Flyer. At OU, she played over 38 ½ minutes and again led the team with 15 points.

On the court, she’s padded up like a football player, with extra protection on her thighs, shins, and rear end. Her right ankle – which hampered her last year – also has extra support.

She said that’s all “just for protection” so she can play the way she wants out there, whether it’s taking charges, driving the lane and getting fouled or banging on the boards with the bigger inside players.

Yet, to really play as she wants, she and her teammates need to hit some shots.

“I was like, ‘Do I need to say a Hail Mary to get the rim to open up?’ ” Williams-Jeter laughed.

When you’re 1-for-14, you need more than one Hail Mary she was told.

She nodded: “Yeah, maybe I needed to start with a rosary.”

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