Players such as Marquita McMurray, Jasmine English and TaCoya Allen fit the bill. Last year, it was point guard Breanna Massey.
Prior to the start of the 2010-2011 season, Bullock knew his squad, though talented, lacked a bonafide vocal leader who would ensure the coach’s orders were carried through on the court.
So Bullock adjusted, micromanaging or “micro coaching,” as he put it, his squad more this past season. That meant coaching every minute detail, including changes teams in the past would make without him mentioning them. Bullock led the Lady Bulldogs to a 28-5 record, including Calhoun County and Class 4A, Area 9 titles and another trip to the Northeast Regional final.
For his efforts, he was chosen as The Star’s county Class 4A-6A Coach of the Year.
“They played hard,” Bullock said of his team. “Every game we played they played extremely hard. They never quit.”
Bullock said his top six were as athletic as any bunch he’s had in his six-year tenure. That bunch included first-team all-county selections Tiakeefah Huguley, Patricia Pickens and Tanjanik Munford, as well as second-teamers Calishia Parker and Daica Wilson and honorable mention Apryl Lewis.
“I had five players on that team that could score 20 points any given night,” Bullock said.
They opened the season, winning eight of their first 10 and were ranked in the Alabama Sports Writers Association top 10 all season. They won 13 in a row during a month and a half span between losses to area foe Cherokee County. The Lady Warriors were the only Class 4A team to defeat the Lady Bulldogs before Guntersville upended them to end their season in the regional final at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
“We waited until the last game of the year to play our worst game of the year,” Bullock said of his team’s three-point loss to the Lady Wildcats. “We scored 30 points and we had 17 turnovers and we still had an opportunity to win it. It just came to down to a lack of leadership. A good leader is going to find a way to win.”
Bullock said not having a player who was an extension of himself out on the floor often led to turnovers and caused him to burn unnecessary timeouts to make minute adjustments such as getting into the press break immediately or making a defensive switch to get a stop against a player who hit a shooting steak all of a sudden.
Next year, Bullock said, he’s hoping to have one. He’s already working to remedy the problem, molding Parker, a 6-foot junior, into the “coach on the floor” every team needs.
“There are two things I’m working on for next season,” Bullock said. “One is the leadership aspect and two is being able to string together back to wins in close games.”
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.