Girls’ basketball: Bowie adapts to playing without a home gym

December 23, 2013

The Bowie girls’ basketball team has all the components of a well-constructed team: an experienced backcourt including senior guards Ryan Maynard and Serena Brown, a strength down low in Alexis Newbold and Genesis Oliver, consistent energy off the bench, and a star with deep-ball range in senior Marshauna Butler.

What the Bulldogs don’t have is a home gym. The floor at Bowie is currently being redone, a process that’s forced Bowie on the road until late January.

“We practice in the small gym, and all our home games are away games,” Butler said. “We don’t have as much room as usual to work with. . . and we have to go back to [Roosevelt] when we play them again, but it’s something we have to deal with.”

Butler and the Bulldogs (3-3) have played one of the most grueling season-opening schedules one could draw up, including non-league games against consistently tough Crossland (3-2) and 6-1 Damascus, and Prince George’s 4A draws against the league’s early favorites: unbeaten C.H. Flowers (4-0) and Eleanor Roosevelt (4-0).

Bowie lost the latter two games by a combined 13 points, including an impressive second-half comeback in front of the always-hostile crowd at Roosevelt — a rally that ultimately fell just short in a game that was supposed to be a home game for the Bulldogs.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the weekend of football in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. (Nick Plum/Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

After the game, Coach Chris Ferguson acknowledged the challenges of limited practice space and constant road trips to gyms known to be particularly unfriendly to would-be challengers. He also said the Bulldogs’ habit of spotting the league’s top teams big first-half leads and charging back late is one they’ll have to break — particularly without a home-court advantage to buoy them.

But according to Butler, the biggest challenge facing the Bulldogs in the midst of their months-long road trip is one they can actually control: rebounding.

The Bulldogs’ rebounding deficit against Roosevelt yielded the Raiders double-digit second-chance points and often shortened Bowie’s possessions to one shot each, a crippling limit for a team built on outside shooting, something that inevitably ebbs and flows.

“We’ve been working on it at practice,” Butler said, “boxing out and having more intensity.”

Still, she said believes when the Bulldogs improve their work on the boards, they’ll be able to reverse their early season results, regardless of the venue.

“No doubt,” Butler said, when asked if she thinks Bowie can turn losses against the league’s top teams into wins in the coming months. “It’s basically just rebounding and picking it up on defense. We always try to do everything when we’re down by 20, to try to get back in the game.”

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