Basketball has had its share of doctors.
Dr. James Naismith invented the game. Dr. J, Julius Erving, was one of its greatest players.
Up next, Dr. Anderson?
Before Christina Anderson can finish her doctorate, there’s unfinished business — coaching Parkview Baptist in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament.
“I’ve always believed that regardless of what profession you’re in, it’s important to keep learning and strive for the highest level you can attain,” Anderson said. “Since I had my masters, going for a Ph.D. was the next step.”
Don’t know much about Anderson or her team? You’re not alone.
The fourth-seeded Eagles (24-10) play top-seeded Iota (27-5) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first of two Class 3A semifinals at Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center in Hammond. PBS’ District 6-3A rival, two-time defending champion University High (27-8), faces No. 2 Jewel Sumner (33-0) at 6:15 p.m.
It is the first LHSAA tourney appearance for the PBS girls and Anderson, who took over as head coach months after becoming an assistant. It is the first coaching job for Anderson. She played at Bethany Christian in 1990s and played one season at New Orleans-based Dillard.
“I got to that point where you realize you’re not going to make it in the WNBA,” Anderson recalled. “I’d always been in small schools, first at Bethany and then at Dillard, and I wanted something different, so I transferred to UNO.”
Anderson taught for nine years in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and then moved to West Baton Rouge, where she took on administrative roles, serving as an assistant principal and principal at the middle school level. Next she was principal at Inspire Charter in Baton Rouge.
“I knew I wanted to coach, but I wasn’t sure when it would be, especially when my children were small,” Anderson said. “When I came to Parkview, there was a head coach and assistants in place. I got to know Jessica (Shelton, the previous coach). A spot opened up for an assistant this year.”
Anderson started working on her doctorate through Florida-based Kaiser University while taking two years off. She is in her second year as coordinator of Parkview’s learning lab for grades 9-12. PBS students can take lab classes as a study skills elective. Anderson and other lab instructors also work with students referred by teachers and students seeking help with specific subjects.
When Shelton took on added administrative duties, Anderson became the interim coach, a title that has since been amended.
“Coach Anderson has instilled so much confidence in us,” PBS guard Skyler Goodwin said. “She’s made us see if we continue to work hard and work together anything is possible.”
Anderson went back to her own basketball roots. As a player for former Parkview boys coach Don Green at Bethany, Anderson was drilled on conditioning and defense.
“These girls all have offensive skills,” Anderson said. “Defense and scheming how to use it against an opponent is more my thing, and it’s helped make us stronger.”
Anderson also has been a calming influence, reminding players they controlled their destiny before the second overtime of Thursday’s 80-71 quarterfinal win over South Beauregard.
Anderson credits the PBS students and faculty for their support, along with her own team, husband Granville, 10-year-old son Granville II and daughter Katelyn, who is seven. Granville Anderson, a former White Castle standout, ran track at Southern.
“My son and daughter are students at the elementary school,” Anderson said. “They know to come to the gym once school is out. They chase down balls. My husband has the patience of Job.”
A trip to Florida to close out the doctorate looms. So does “Mom Taxi” duties for her children’s games.
But first there’s Hammond and the Girls Top 28.
“It’s a great opportunity as long as the girls don’t let the stage get bigger than they are,” Anderson said. “They just need to play their game.”