Tomekia Reed, the women’s coach at Jackson State, explains how she got the team back on track. The Lady Tigers enter the NCAA tournament on a 21-game winning streak.
Tomekia Reed talked about the program’s great legacy, history, and supremacy in the Southwestern Athletic Conference when she interviewed for the women’s head-coaching post at Jackson State University in 2018. (SWAC).
Despite having no prior Division I head-coaching experience, she was confident in her ability to return the program to its former glory in the SWAC, where it had won seven regular-season and conference tournament titles since 1982.
Reed had direct experience with the program’s success as an assistant under former Lady Tigers coach Denise Taylor from 2006 to 2009, and was a key part of the team’s two SWAC regular-season titles, SWAC tournament title, and NCAA tournament berth in 2008.
When I interviewed, I told them, ‘We have to get Jackson State back to where it was when I was the assistant coach,'” said Reed, who previously worked as an assistant coach at Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Louisiana-Lafayette, and New Orleans, as well as being the head coach of the Hinds Community College women’s basketball team (her alma mater).
He says, “We need to get back to winning championships and being the best team in the conference.” One of the things that drew them to me was that. We had a track record of success.
Reed, who is in her fourth season as the Lady Tigers’ head coach, has twice been named SWAC Coach of the Year and has guided JSU to three straight regular-season conference titles, back-to-back SWAC tournament titles, and a second straight NCAA tournament trip. In a first-round clash on Saturday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the No. 14 seed Lady Tigers (23-6, 18-0 SWAC) will face No. 3 seed LSU.
Jackson State won the SWAC tournament title game 101-80 last Saturday, completing an unbeaten conference schedule. Reed is one of only five men’s and women’s Division I basketball coaches to have their teams go unbeaten in conference play this season.
On the women’s side, Princeton’s Carla Berube and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, and Murray State’s Matt McMahon and South Dakota State’s Eric Henderson are the others, while on the men’s side, Murray State’s Matt McMahon and South Dakota State’s Eric Henderson are the others.
Dayzsha Rogan, the SWAC Player of the Year last season, remarked, “We played fantastic all year.” “We played SEC schools that were tough to beat. We were, I believe, well-prepared to go undefeated. We put in a lot of effort during the year.
We’ve had several challenges, including going up against the refs and other players, but we’ve had a fantastic year with a fantastic team. So I’m really proud of my squad for surviving and winning [the SWAC tournament championship]. “
Reed isn’t surprised by the team’s performance, which is currently on a 21-game winning streak. This season, Ameshya Williams-Holliday was selected as SWAC Player of the Year and SWAC Defensive Player of the Year. She was a former center at Mississippi State before joining the Lady Tigers in 2018.
The 6-foot-4 senior led the SWAC in points (19.4), field goal percentage (58.6), and blocked shots (2.7). In addition, she finished second in the conference in rebounds per game (11.3). Rogan was named second-team All-SWAC after averaging 13.3 points per game and leading the club with 42 3-pointers.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” Reed added. Every year, we wanted [this program] to improve what we offered to the table [and] improve the program’s success.
That is what we want to achieve: to finally do something that will garner national attention. [The win streak] is letting us know that we’re on the right track. We simply do not want to compete in the SWAC. We aim to be competitive and represent the SWAC outside of the SWAC. We want to compete hard in major games and win them.
Jackson State head football coach Deion Sanders, aka Coach Prime, is one of the Lady Tigers’ most ardent supporters, having attended several of the Lady Tigers’ games this season.
Shelomi Sanders, a senior guard at Rockwall-Heath High School in Rockwall, Texas, signed with Jackson State last month and will join her elder brothers, Shilo and Shedeur, as members of the Tigers’ athletic family in the fall. Coach Prime expressed his delight and belief in Reed after Shelomi announced her decision to attend Jackson State on Instagram.
“When I say God is good, I mean God is good!” My young daughter, @shelomisanders, has committed to playing basketball for the @gojsutigerswbb, the back-to-back SWAC Champions! @coachtomekiareed I adore you, respect you, and trust you with my daughter. Teach her, push her, and help her grow into the best player she can be on and off the court. “
Coach Sanders frequently sent some of his football players to Reed’s practices to assist the Lady Tigers in their game preparation.
“The other day, Prime FaceTimed me,” Reed explained. “He told me, ‘Coach, you can’t go backwards; you have to keep improving.’ You can’t feel comfortable while blowing people out.
You must discover ways to remain tough. If you want to win it all again, you’ll face stiff competition on the other side, and you’ll need to be prepared. ” He is correct. You’re outscoring opponents by 40 to 50 points. “Are you getting better?” you might ask.
Reed has pushed the program to new heights in a short length of time, signing a four-year contract extension with JSU in 2020 after only two seasons as head coach. However, there were times during her first year on the job when the program’s direction was not always clear.
When Reed took over the club during the 2018-19 season and went 1-5 in conference play, it brought back terrible memories of the Lady Tigers’ 10-game losing run in 2016-17, when they finished 12-16 under then-coach Taylor. Ashley Robinson, the athletic director at Jackson State, hasn’t given up on Reed.
“I urged them to be patient when Coach Reed started [1-5],” Robinson added. “I’ll never forget the night I called her at 1-5 in the conference and encouraged her to “keep doing what you’re doing,” she says. This is your first year, but I see what you’re doing and what you’re trying to do. ‘
Reed and Robinson, who are both from Jackson, Mississippi, have been friends since high school. Reed needs Robinson’s complete support and trust to stay the course and turn the program around. Reed and the Lady Tigers went 11-1 in the remaining 12 conference games that season, reaching the 2019 SWAC tournament final before falling 45-41 to Southern University in a close game.
“Everyone wanted me gone at first, and in my first year, they started claiming I was the wrong hire.” Ashley gave me the mental support and reassurance I needed, Reed explained. We turned the program around when he said those words and was right there for me. Without his rapid help, I wouldn’t have been able to complete it.”
Since that slump in 2018, Jackson State has gone 59-4 in conference play. Reed went back to her coaching basics to right the ship, watching and interpreting as much footage as she could, as she learned from five-time WNBA All-Star and current New Orleans Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon.
When Reed was head coach at Louisiana Tech, she was an assistant for Weatherspoon, and she applied the methods she acquired from Weatherspoon to improve her team.
“[Weatherspoon] had a short fuse and had zero tolerance for mediocrity, and that was true for both her coaches and her players,” Reed added. “As a coach, I had to bring it every day.” She was a firm believer in the development of skills. So those details helped me, and a large part of who I am today stems from them. I’m also a stickler for details. “
Reed was the recruiting coordinator at Jackson State during her first term as an assistant under Taylor. Now that she is the head coach, she is focused on developing good relationships with local players and attracting top talent with the objective of winning the state of Mississippi in recruiting.
Reed began messaging Williams-Holliday, a Gulfport, Mississippi native, after she abruptly departed then-No. 4-ranked Mississippi State two games into her sophomore season in 2017 for personal reasons. When Reed was the head coach at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Mississippi, she began recruiting Williams-Holliday straight out of high school.
They began emailing on a daily basis soon after she left MSU, with Reed consistently pressing her to stay in basketball. When Reed accepted the position of head coach at Jackson State in 2018, Williams-Holliday decided to follow suit, enrolling at the university in June of that year.