How SC4's women's basketball team built trust with its new coach — and the wins are following

·3 min read
SC4's women's basketball team meets in a huddle during a game earlier this season. The Skippers are currently 12-7 under new coach Craig Archer.
SC4's women's basketball team meets in a huddle during a game earlier this season. The Skippers are currently 12-7 under new coach Craig Archer.

Craig Archer is trying to build toward success with the St. Clair County Community College women's basketball team. He's taken the first key step in that process by building something else — trust with his players.

"That's a hard thing to develop," said Archer, who's in his first season as coach at SC4. "But we intentionally work really hard to develop that."

While new to the women's program, Archer is a familiar face around campus. He spent the previous six years as an assistant with the men's team. He also played for the Skippers from 2006-08.

While the setting hadn't changed for him, the situation was completely different. As Archer pointed out, he didn't recruit a single player on the women's roster. But you wouldn't know it with how well SC4 is playing as of late.

The Skippers are 12-7 overall, 5-2 in conference play, but are on a four-game winning streak. Six of their seven losses have been by less than 10 points. With nine regular-season games remaining, they're starting to gel at just the right time.

SC4 women's basketball's Lily Connelly shoots a 3-pointer during a game earlier this season. She's currently averaging 10.4 points per game on 47.1% shooting.
SC4 women's basketball's Lily Connelly shoots a 3-pointer during a game earlier this season. She's currently averaging 10.4 points per game on 47.1% shooting.

"There's a chemistry between a coach and players," Archer said. "You're both getting to know each other. And being a new coach for them, the way this team has really come together as a group, and then built that trust with me, has been incredible."

It's a feeling that goes both ways.

"We definitely have a lot of trust in him, too," Skippers guard Lily Connelly said. "Especially because he's coached in the past ... he knows how to win and we want to win. We're prepared to do whatever it takes."

For Connelly — the Times Herald's Female Athlete of the year in 2020 at Croswell-Lexington — that meant transitioning from the post to the perimeter under Archer.

"When I came in, I saw way more potential (in Connelly) on the outside playing a guard spot," Archer said. "And she embraced that role. Which at the beginning of the season was a little bit uncomfortable for her. So her growth story is awesome.

"She has the ability to finish. She has the ability to knock down shots. She has the ability to pass the ball — she's a great teammate."

The freshman is averaging 10.4 points and 1.4 assists per game on 47.1% shooting. Connelly's new role has paired her alongside point guard Brooklyn Taylor, who also shares faith in Archer.

SC4's Brooklyn Taylor attempts a layup during a game earlier this season. The guard leads the Skippers in scoring with an average of 15.7 points per game.
SC4's Brooklyn Taylor attempts a layup during a game earlier this season. The guard leads the Skippers in scoring with an average of 15.7 points per game.

"The point guard is like the extension of the coach," Taylor said. "So we have to have a good relationship in order to really get the team going. So there are a lot of times where he trusts me to make the right call."

Taylor leads SC4 in scoring at 15.7 points per game. She's also dishing out a team-high 4.3 assists, while her 1.1 steals per game average ranks second. The sophomore also has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.7.

"That's incredible as a point guard and it makes her deadly," Archer said. "She's a three-level scorer. She can pull up, she can shoot the three and she can finish at the basket ... and then she doesn't turn the ball over. That's a coach's dream."

Archer's belief in the two guards has gone a long way.

"That's huge," Connelly said. "Especially for a first-year coach not knowing your players right away and your team. He was willing to (trust us) right away, especially since a bunch of us had a league year or two playing at SC4 under the belt."

"It's just about having an understanding of the expectations for the season and what we want to accomplish," Taylor said. "I think that's the main thing. If we all have the same common goal then it kind of makes it easy."

Contact Brenden Welper at bwelper@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: How SC4 women's basketball built trust with its new coach

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