Losing is a stranger to Betsy Harris.
The first-year Florida Southern College women’s head coach knows that she’ll bump into a loss every now and then but it doesn’t mean she’s going to want to remember it or have it anywhere near the Moccasins.
Harris didn’t lose much at her previous stops. She led the College of Coastal Georgia to three consecutive winning records, including back-to-back 20-plus win seasons. During her playing days at the University of Alabama, Harris led the Crimson Tide to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances and a trip to the NCAA Division I Final Four in 1994. She earned second-team All-SEC honors as a senior that year and was also named the MVP of the Midwest Regional and earned a spot on the 1994 Final Four All-Tournament Team.
Harris is no stranger to winning. That’s something she hopes to introduce to a Florida Southern program that has struggled lately, producing a record of 17-37 the past two years.
“I think the last two years they got used to losing,” Harris said. “It didn’t have as much effect on somebody that’s used to winning, which is what I’m used to. I’m trying to get rid of that mentality. I’m trying to get them to understand the difference. Once you’re used to something, that’s what you expect.”
Florida Southern forward Christin Strawbridge, who played at Kathleen High School, was a freshman on last year’s squad.
She witnessed firsthand the damage losing can do to a team that had the talent but was bested by injuries and close-calls.
“We want to win,” she said. “We’re trying to do whatever we can. It is difficult coming off a hard season last year where we didn’t win much. We have to learn what’s it’s like to dig in in the last seconds of those games and get the win. We were really close a lot of times last year and didn’t pull out the win in the end. We have to learn so many new things.”
Among the learning curve is how to win under a new coach.
Harris replaced Holly Borchers, who had spent the two previous seasons as head coach and was a six-year assistant coach. Harris has had to get used to the players and vice-versa.
While no change is seamless, Strawbridge thinks the team is handling it just fine.
“There’s always an adjustment period,” she said. “I look forward to seeing what coach Betsy is going to do and how our team reacts to it. I think our team is ready to get better.”
The Mocs proved that right out of the gate this year as they won their first two games.
Then they took a couple of steps backward in two consecutive losses in Georgia last week. The low point came against Georgia Southwestern when the Mocs let a 12-point second-half lead slip away into a 79-75 loss.
“They surprised themselves when they won the first two games,” Harris said. “The last two, I don’t know what happened,. They were two totally different teams that showed up. If the team that had showed up in Tampa had showed up in Georgia we would have easily won both of those games. Now, it’s trying to find consistency. Once we get everybody on the same page I think we could have a good season.”
Florida Southern will look to end its two-game slide as the Mocs play their first home game of the season at 2 p.m. today against future Sunshine State Conference foe Embry-Riddle.
And if the Mocs can find their stride first against the Eagles then losing might well become a stranger to them as it is to Harris.
It’s what she expects.
“I expect a winning record,” she said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less. They have the talent to be a good team. If they hadn’t already showed me in Tampa, then I probably wouldn’t expect even more now.”