Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Celeste Taylor is ready to secure her role as team leader

Celeste Taylor is ready to secure her role as team leader
Jack Myer

In the eighth grade, Celeste Taylor suited up for the Long Island Lutheran girl’s varsity basketball team, taking a commanding presence on the court with girls who were as much as five years older than she.

Now, the Texas women’s basketball team’s success in the 2020 season rests on the shoulders of an athlete who has proven she can handle the pressure of leading a team at a young age.

The Longhorns lost three starters and four total seniors from last year’s squad, which finished with a disappointing 19–11 record. Moreover, the program embraced change by employing an almost entirely new coaching staff and adding five freshman players.

This influx of inexperience has forced the 19-year-old to develop into an offensive focal point and vocal leader quicker than she expected when she committed to the team in December 2017.

“My role has changed tremendously, especially with getting older,” Taylor said during a Nov. 24 teleconference. “I definitely need to be a more vocal leader, and I definitely need to play hard and just show the freshmen and my other teammates that we can get through this together.”

Head coach Vic Schaefer’s up-tempo coaching style and full-court press defense schemes have highlighted Taylor’s best attributes on the court. The sophomore has racked up 28 steals in the ten games she’s played. Schaefer’s core principles of on-ball pressure and press defense are a perfect match for Taylor’s preferred style of play, she said.

The new staff’s emphasis on controlling unforced errors has resonated with Taylor. The sophomore has developed better decision-making and control this season when she has the ball in her hands, something she attributes to Schaefer’s offensive philosophy. 

“We have to take care of the ball, and that’s the end of the discussion,” Taylor said. “We can’t turn over the ball, we can’t throw it away and we can’t waste valuable possessions. He’s definitely emphasized taking care of the ball.”

Better ball management has led to increased scoring opportunities for Texas. While Taylor serves as a leader and defensive stalwart, junior center Charli Collier is the offensive focal point for the Longhorns, averaging 21.5 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. It’s Taylor’s passing, however, that fuels Texas’s offensive chemistry, Collier said.

“(With) Celeste, including all of our players on this team, our chemistry has grown,” Collier said in a Nov. 29 teleconference. “I feel like she distributes well, and so do our other guards. With the offense that we run, we just get to the paint as much as possible, so that helps our chemistry a lot.”

While Taylor picked up new leadership responsibilities and worked to improve her offensive game one thing hasn’t changed since her freshman year –– her unwavering effort.
Her work ethic in practice caught his eye from the moment he came to Texas, Schaefer said.

“She’s certainly probably one of our top two fastest kids when you just talk about pure speed,” Schaefer said during a Nov. 18 preseason teleconference. “Her and Charli (Collier) , their motor runs how I like it. They don’t have a governor on their motor, they are rolling.”

Taylor has more responsibilities in year two of her Texas basketball career, but despite her high-profile role on the team, she knows she must continue to do what got her to this point: hustle hard and play lockdown defense.

“For me, it’s showing how hard I work,” Taylor said during a Nov. 28 teleconference. “Before being vocal, I think you need to show the younger kids how hard you have to work and what needs to be done in order to win some games. I don’t like to be a hypocrite, so I’m not going to tell somebody to do something if I’m not doing it.”

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Celeste Taylor is ready to secure her role as team leader