Coats Fulks Guides ‘Cats to A-10 Success

Jacob Margolis ‘20

Sports Writer

Quick Feet: Sophomore Katie Turner explodes past the St. Bonaventure’s defense. Turner has played a pivotal role in the ‘Cats’ highly succesful season. Photo by Emma Brentjens ‘21

When Coach Gayle Coats Fulks was named Davidson’s Women’s Head Basketball Coach in 2017, she took over a program that had won a combined 22 games, 10 in conference, in its first three seasons in the Atlantic 10. In a little bit over a season and a half at the helm, she has already guided her teams to 26 total wins and 15 conference wins. This season alone, the team has achieved an 8-2 record in conference play, just a game and a half behind VCU for first place in the Atlantic 10. It is clear that Coats Fulks has comprehensively turned the fortune of the women’s basketball program in a short period of time.

What has keyed this turnaround and impressive start to conference play? According to guard Katie Turner ‘21, “The biggest strength we have is our unity as a team and as a family; we love one another, and every night we step out onto that court we have each other’s backs.” Some would say that every good team is close and shares this sort of mentality, but Turner rebuffs that notion. She insisted that “it’s a very rare thing to have a team as close as ours, and it definitely comes as one of our biggest strengths when facing other teams.” 

Sarah Donovan ‘21 corroborated Turner’s statements when she opined that “chemistry is what helps us be as successful as we are.” She added that another part of the team’s success is a result of “[adept ball movement] on offense and balanced scoring.” 

In spite of the team’s 8-2 start, there are still areas for Wildcat improvement. Donovan stated that while team defense has improved, “there [are] stretches where we have too many breakdowns; heading into the rest of the season, [there is] a real emphasis to limit these breakdowns.” 

Turner was less specific when she described the team’s weaknesses. She explained: “Of course we have weaknesses and things we need to work on, both individually and as a whole, but I would say our consistency, energy, and leadership continue to improve and grow every single day.”

While the start to conference play has been rewarding, the team is not complacent. When asked if the team is satisfied with the early results, Turner responded, “I would say no, we are not satisfied with where we’re at right now in the season. We are very happy with the way we’ve been playing, but we are capable of so much more. 7-2 is a great start to conference play, but the team is not satisfied with second place.” 

Turner continued: “We expect excellence: the Davidson program is striving to finish first in the A10 standings, finishing conference play 14-2.  We hope to go on and win the A10 tournament, [and] make the NCAA tournament.” 

Donovan echoed Turner’s sentiments. She added that not only was making the NCAA Tournament the ultimate goal, but she also believes that the team is “definitely capable of winning the conference tournament.” 

The players recognize that this will be a challenging task. Donovan made sure to mention that “there are many good teams in the A10, so we have to continue to bring our best in order to achieve our goal.”  

Davidson finishes the regular season with six games, two of which are at home in Belk Arena (where the team has gone 8-2) against teams Davidson has previously beaten. The season culminates with a critical matchup at VCU, which could decide the Atlantic 10 Regular Season Champion. Beyond this season, the team is solidly balanced in terms of experience and should have a more than solid core of players for the foreseeable future. The Wildcats’ next home game is Wednesday, February 13th, at 7:00 PM.

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