In his attempt to improve the defensive intensity of Crossroads’ girls on the basketball court, Coach Malik Abdul-Mansour has had them practice against boys. Before the Crossroads teams begin their formal workouts, the girls sometimes try to defend members of the boys’ team. Abdul-Mansour says he likes what he sees, “for whatever reason, the girls don’t work as hard playing against other girls,” he observed. “They have more intensity defending the boys.”
Abdul-Mansour is attempting to instill a defensive mentality to counteract Crossroads’ move to a higher division than last season when the Roadrunners won the first CIF girls basketball championship in school history. That was with a different coaching staff.
Al Buck, an assistant to Kevin Cormier last season, says the Roadrunners used zone defenses most of the time.
“At times it appeared to be a man-to-man, but if you looked closely you could see it was a zone,” he said. “These girls are very smart and could disguise a defense very well.”
The defense was good enough to produce results. But Abdul-Mansour has a different philosophy, especially because he sees difficult challenges ahead in the higher division.
It’s less fun to dig in on defense with greater intensity, and Abdul-Mansour looked for new ways to install his program.
“When approached, I thought it was a good idea for the girls to practice against the boys,” said Crossroads boys coach Kevin Jackson. “It does the girls more good than the boys but it doesn’t hurt the boys, at all. Practicing is always good.”
Abdul-Mansour changed his starting lineup in a recent game against New Roads by starting Katy Sherman at guard alongside returning CIF Player of the Year Megan Baer.
Sherman, who is strong on defense, replaced Nadine Byers, one of the stars of last year’s team. But Byers played prominently as a reserve. Abdul-Mansour said he hasn’t settled on a starting five for upcoming league games. “I’m trying to find the unit that will be best defensively,” he said.