By JAIME HERNANDEZ
Pima Community College women’s basketball coach Todd Holthaus has high expectations for his players this season. Coming off a 17-15 record and a trip to regionals last year, he expects them to take the next step.
“I feel like the work we have put in since June in the weight room and just hanging out together has developed some great chemistry,” he said.
Holthaus said the close-knit team compares favorably to successful teams from the past.
“We may not be the biggest or the fastest, but it’s the team that’s the most together,” he said. “This group is one of the most together groups that I’ve ever coached to this point, and I’m excited about that.”
Holthaus is starting his seventh season as head coach. He has posted a 130-66 overall record, with five straight winning seasons.
To make it six in a row, Holthaus will rely heavily on three talented sophomores: point guards Rachel Williams and Felicia Foster, and forward Raja Moreno-Ross.
“This year I’m looking to take more of a leadership role,” Williams said. “Last year I sat and watched.
Now it’s our turn to step up to that role.”
The Aztecs believe they have the talent and togetherness that is necessary for advancing to nationals.
“Our goal is a national championship this year,” Ross said. “Regionals won’t be good enough.”
The team has a mix of returning and new players. Sophomore forward Holly Bolen transferred from Eastern Arizona College and freshman guard Amanda Gamez is expected to contribute immediately.
The Aztecs will be tested early when Midland College comes to Tucson on Nov. 8. The Texas school is expected to be one of the top Division 1 junior colleges in the country.
“This is a great way to start the season,” Holthaus said. “The thing we need to do is to play together, play smart and, most importantly, to play tough.”
He said the Aztecs will need toughness to beat talented teams.
“We’ve been preaching all summer long about being Aztec tough,” he said. “For us to beat the bigger and stronger teams, we have to have that mentality of not backing down.”