By Michael Eldridge | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - During the first season in the Sun Belt Conference, the UT Arlington defense was in the bottom half in terms of points allowed per game. Heading into the 2014-15 season, the Lady Mavericks have put an emphasis of changing their mentality.
"We have to establish confidence in what we are doing," UT Arlington assistant coach Talby Justus said. "If they buy into it they have the chance to be great defensively because of the depth and athleticism across the board."
The change in defensive mentality started with the 11 newcomers to the team that Justus said are buying into the program. The group is led by defensive standout Cierra Johnson, a freshman from LD Bell High School in Bedford. Johnson was the Defensive Player of the Year in District 4-5A in her senior season, as well as a first team All-District selection.
UT Arlington head coach Krista Gerlich has looked to Johnson to be the leader of the team's defense, an impression that Johnson is not taking lightly.
"It means a lot," Johnson said. "Defense is the most exciting part for me. The offense will come, but the defense really gets me hyped."
Johnson said that with a week away from tip-off that she, and the team around her, are trying to soak up every bit of detail from the coaches and are just working on the little things to be ready.
"I know that the coaches have a system and when I do it right I know it will work," Johnson said. "We are listening to what the coaches have to say and previously we have not been doing the little things, but we have been trying to focus on that and get every detail that the coaches are telling us."
The UTA defense will get a quick look to test itself when it hosts Missouri Valley College in the season opener on Nov. 14. The Vikings poured in 99 points in a game on Nov. 11.
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