Permian High School head coach Angela Braziel watches the Lady Panthers during a practice scrimmage.
timing couldn't have been better.
The Permian girls' head basketball coach could have found herself game-planning against the Panthers this season, as the head coach at Midland Lee.
had applied to coach the Rebels in 2009, and she
was just a few phone calls and a handshake away from taking the job.
But then she
was saved by one timely phone call.
"I was in Midland, and I had filed all the paperwork," said Braziel
, a 1995 Permian grad.
"But then I got a phone call saying the Permian
head coaching position was open.
"I dropped everything there and came back home to work at Permian
, to be a part of the Mojo family."
has played at every level of organized basketball - high school, junior college, NCAA Division I, professional - but returning to coach at her
alma mater has been the chance of a lifetime.
Even if the first chapter of the reunion was bittersweet.
team posted a 10-4 record out of district and were poised for a strong finish, but they just missed out on their first .500 record in five years, finishing at 15-17 after they lost their finale to three-win Midland Lee - the same team Braziel could have been coaching.
, however, is expecting more this season - from her
team, which lost just two seniors from last year, and from herself, in her
second year at the helm.
"We struggled a bit last year, but we learned a lot from it," Braziel
"It doesn't seem like (the players) lost a beat.
They came in and look like they're ready to go."
The Panthers will need to see the most improvement in district, where they went just 5-13 last season.
team will benefit from district realignment, as most of the strong Panhandle teams - including three of four 2009-'10 district playoff qualifiers - are no longer in Permian's district.
Don't expect to see a drastically different product on the court this season, however.
The Panthers will still rely on their athleticism and try out outrun teams rather than impose their will in the paint.
But with one more year under the Panthers' belt, that game is already being refined.
"In scrimmages, I saw some good things, some things we weren't doing last year," Braziel
"We were shooting the ball better, making better decisions.
I want to see them be more aggressive, shoot the ball more."
expects most of that improvement to start with her
also hopes she
can provide some urgency as a mentor.
played two years at Texas Tech
and moved on to play three years in the WNBA, and she
can motivate her
Panthers to follow in her
"The girls just want to get to the point where we can have fun and win at the same time," Braziel