Auburn women’s basketball focused on “bonding” ahead of European Tour

Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 9:54 PM EDT
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AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - The Auburn women’s basketball team is back with a roster full of new faces. The Lady Tigers are preparing to head to Europe for a 10-day long trip to face local competition.

The 2023-24 season will be Coach Johnnie Harris’ third season with the program. For her, this trip is all about building a team bond.

“It starts off the court, but also on the court. It’ll just be us in the gym, so we’re going to have to communicate,” Coach explained. “We’re going to have to lean on each other. I’m going to have to have people step up.”

Coach Harris has had a busy offseason as she’s already picked up 8 new players, including a familiar face to Columbus. Junior guard, Kionna Gaines, was a star at Carver High School who spent two seasons at Clemson University. She entered the transfer portal and moved to The Plains in late May. She says Coach J is a “good type of coach to have.”

“She’s somebody that wants the best for you and will push you,” Gaines said. “She’ll let you play your game while you’re on the court, and not try to change you.”

Gaines also says she’s having a great time with the team.

“This is the closest team I’ve ever been on where everybody gets along and everybody has fun together,” she said.

Senior forward Taylen Collins transferred from Oklahoma State. She says the team needs to keep building chemistry to be successful against international teams.

“We haven’t really been playing together for very long, so we’ll just keep continuing to build on that,” she said. ‘And know what each other likes to do, how we like to pass, and stuff like that, I feel like that’s going to be key for us.”

The Tigers lost in the second round of the WNIT tournament at the end of the 2022-23 season. Now, Coach J and the Lady Tigers say they are “hungry” for more.

“Since that last game, these kids that have come back and the kids that come in, have been working really hard at building this program and going to the next level,” Coach explained. “They know what it takes.”

When asked about what Tiger Fans should expect this season, Gaines and Collins had this to say:

“I want them to expect for us to come out and play hard, and not back down from anything,” Collins said. “I just know how hard we’ve been working on the court already, and I know the sky’s the limit for us.”

“They can expect a dunk, because I’m definitely going to get a dunk in a game,” Gaines said. “I’ve tried in my past seasons at Clemson and it was a fail, so I feel like this year is my year to actually showcase what I’ve been trying to show for a long time.”

The Tigers leave for their European Tour on Aug. 6 and will return on Aug. 16. Fans can watch their first game on Aug. 9 on Facebook Live on the Auburn Tigers’ Facebook page.