We’re lower than 100 days from the beginning of the 2022–23 ladies’s faculty basketball season, and whereas fall practices are nonetheless a methods away, a lot of the offseason insanity has shaken out.
A large number of high-profile transfers and a few main teaching adjustments appear poised so as to add much more intrigue to the upcoming marketing campaign, plus perennial powerhouse UConn suffered a major setback last week. So with the calendar in August, listed here are 11 burning questions that appear poised to form the upcoming season.
1. Can the addition of Shaylee Gonzales assist Texas get again to the Closing 4?
In every of Vic Schaefer’s first two seasons in Austin, the Longhorns have fallen within the Elite Eight. Final yr, behind the stellar play of freshman sensation Rori Harmon, Texas entered the NCAA event as a No. 2 seed, and it got here inside one half of topping their area’s high seed, Stanford. Now in her second season with this system, Harmon, a professional All-American candidate, is all however assured to enhance. Comparable progress could be anticipated from sophomore forwards Aaliyah Moore and DeYona Gaston. Plus, guard Aliyah Matharu, the staff’s main scorer from final season, can also be again for her senior yr.
However maybe no addition across the nation might show to be extra consequential than Texas including Gonzales. A 3-time All-WCC first-team choice, Gonzales averaged 18.3 factors, 5.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per recreation final season. She helped BYU get ranked as excessive as No. 15 within the AP ballot, and finally carried the Cougars to a 26–4 document and NCAA event berth. How precisely she suits into Texas’s backcourt stays to be seen, however Gonzales’s dynamic playmaking might very effectively be the distinction if the Longhorns make their first Closing 4 since 2003.
2. What’s UConn’s ceiling with out Paige Bueckers?
The Huskies discovered to play with out their star guard final season. Bueckers missed 19 video games after tearing her anterior tibial plateau and lateral meniscus in early December. Together with her out of the lineup for almost 12 weeks, UConn went 15–4. Nonetheless, after Bueckers sustained a season-ending ACL tear final week, the group that might be pressured to jell with out her this time round appears to be like otherwise than the one which overcame her absence final yr. Heart Olivia Nelson-Ododa, guard Christyn Williams and wing Evina Westbrook have all entered the skilled ranks, which ought to put much more strain on juniors Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl, and sophomores Caroline Ducharme and Azzi Fudd to supply.
How Fudd performs might be particularly necessary to UConn’s doable success. The No. 1 recruit within the class of 2021, Fudd flashed her offensive potential final yr, most notably in her staff’s Elite Eight win over NC State during which she scored 19 factors. With Bueckers out of the lineup she’s going to routinely be the staff’s high playmaker. UConn nonetheless is probably going a top-10 staff nationally, however its general outlook takes successful as a result of damage of the ’21 consensus Nationwide Participant of the 12 months.
3. After a busy offseason, can LSU replicate its success from 2021–22?
Regardless of the Tigers profitable solely 9 video games in 2020–21, Corridor of Fame coach Kim Mulkey led the Tigers to 26 victories in her first season with this system. Nonetheless, numerous key contributors, together with Sports Illustrated second-team All-American guard Khayla Pointer, have departed, leaving the roster in some flux. In Mulkey’s first full offseason, although, LSU has appeared to retool, including 4 gamers within the switch portal together with AP third-team All-American Angel Reese. Reese, a 6’3″ wing, averaged 17.8 factors and 10.6 rebounds as a sophomore at Maryland and can instantly turn into the point of interest of Mulkey’s assault. If she produces equally to how Pointer did final yr, and far as how gamers like NaLyssa Smith, DiDi Richards and Lauren Cox did throughout their current Baylor tenures, then LSU ought to stay absolutely part of the nationwide dialog.
4. Talking of Reese, the place does Maryland sit within the Huge Ten hierarchy?
Not because the 2009–10 season have Brenda Frese and the Terrapins missed out on an NCAA event. And whereas they made the tourney once more final season, it was this system’s first in three years that included neither a convention regular-season nor convention event title. Maryland then misplaced Reese, star guard Ashley Owusu (to Virginia Tech) and ahead Mimi Collins (to NC State) to the switch portal and appeared set for a rebuild. Former Princeton star Abby Meyers and skilled USF guard Elisa Pinzan have been among the many program’s largest pickups within the portal and each might, in idea, launch Maryland again to convention title rivalry. Plus, guard Lavender Briggs, who arrived in the course of final season from Florida however didn’t play due to damage, additionally offers an offense pop, having averaged 16.7 factors and 6.3 in 47 video games with the Gators.
Scroll to Proceed
5. Following the identical line of questioning, can Owusu push Virginia Tech to the highest of the ACC?
NC State, winner of the ACC final yr, might discover itself taking a step again within the convention following the departures of Elissa Cunane, Kai Crutchfield, Kayla Jones and Raina Perez. And Louisville, which made the Closing 4 after one other stellar season, might regress resulting from Emily Engstler heading to the WNBA. That would depart the door open for Virginia Tech to attempt to declare its first ACC crown. Coach Kenny Brooks’s group has made the NCAA event in every of the previous two years, and two-time first-team All-ACC heart Elizabeth Kitley is again for her senior season. Add in Owusu, who averaged as many as 17.9 factors and 5.6 rebounds a season at Maryland, and the Hokies have a one-two punch that might make them probably the most tough groups to play within the convention.
6. What’s going to Baylor appear like following quite a few big-name departures?
Nicki Collen’s first season teaching Baylor ended abruptly, with the Bears dropping, at residence, to South Dakota, by double digits within the second spherical of the Huge Dance. Now, NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo are each starring for the Fever, whereas guard Jordan Lewis additionally graduated and headed off to the professional ranks. Collen does have three top-75 highschool gamers coming into her program, and Aijha Blackwell (the nation’s second-leading rebounder final season) and Dre’una Edwards (16.8 ppg scorer and double-double menace for Kentucky) spotlight this system’s new addition. How the brand new group jells collectively, although, stays a query.
7. Will continuity elevate Iowa State to its finest yr in program historical past?
Invoice Fennelly has coached the Cyclones for greater than 20 years, however solely twice in his tenure has this system reached the Elite Eight. It wouldn’t be absurd to see this yr’s group turn into the third staff to achieve that juncture—and maybe the primary in class historical past to surpass it. Guards Emily Ryan and Lexi Donarski, the latter of whom was the Huge 12 Defensive Participant of the 12 months in 2022, might be the convention’s most impactful backcourt (on each ends). Plus, the return of star wing Ashley Joens—who weighed turning professional—provides ISU a professional All-American candidate. The trio is among the many high in your complete nation and will assist this season in Ames be particularly memorable.
8. Will Tennessee be South Carolina’s largest SEC challenger?
Whereas the Woman Vols will miss wing Rae Burrell, who’s now enjoying for the Sparks, this system took benefit of a stocked switch portal. Prime-scorer Jordan Horston is trying to construct on a breakout junior season that noticed her almost double her scoring common (from 8.6 to 16.2), and it’s doable the staff’s different 4 starters are all switch additions. Among the many ones to observe are ahead Jasmine Franklin, who averaged 14.9 factors and 12.1 rebounds for Missouri State in 2021–22; ahead Jillian Hollingshead, who at occasions struggled as a freshman at Georgia however was a McDonald’s All-American in 2021; and former Minnesota guard Jasmine Powell. Veteran expertise was, at occasions, capable of push the Gamecocks throughout final yr’s marketing campaign. Maybe Tennessee will show to be South Carolina’s largest check this winter.
9. Is there any cause South Carolina shouldn’t be favored to repeat?
Talking of the reigning nationwide champions, the brief reply to the aforementioned query is not any. Changing star guard Destanni Henderson definitely is among the many program’s high priorities, however a lot of the Gamecocks’ roster stays in any other case intact, and it’s greater than honest to imagine that final yr’s Naismith Participant of the 12 months Aliyah Boston will put up yet one more dominant season. Whereas there are definitely different faculties that enter the season with continuity, South Carolina ought to enter the 2022–23 marketing campaign because the staff to beat.
10. What’s in retailer for Texas A&M within the submit–Gary Blair period?
In 32 years as a university head coach, Blair endured solely two dropping seasons, with final yr’s 14–15 marketing campaign being one in every of them. Blair had been the Aggies’ coach since 2003 and had made the event in each season since ’05 earlier than his last one on the sideline. Following his retirement, the varsity poached Joni Taylor, final yr’s SEC Coach of the 12 months, from Georgia to take over. Taylor led the Woman Bulldogs to 4 NCAA tournaments in six tries and compiled a 140–75 document with the varsity. Simply final week, she was named as an assistant coach on the U.S ladies’s nationwide staff for the ’22 World Cup, one other signal of her renown amongst her friends. What fashion of play Taylor will implement stays to be seen, however after a down yr, the arrow is once more pointing up in School Station.
11. What’s going to Rutgers appear like with the C. Vivian Stringer period formally over?
On the final day of April, the Scarlet Knights introduced that Corridor of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer was formally retiring after amassing 1,055 wins and making 4 Closing Fours and 28 NCAA tournaments in 50 years of teaching. Stringer had been with Rutgers since 1995, and whereas she didn’t coach the staff final season, she was the primary Black coach in NCAA historical past to win greater than 1,000 video games and has lengthy had her imprint on this system.
New this season, former Penn State coach Coquese Washington will lead the Scarlet Knights inside Jersey Mike’s Area, the place the court docket is newly named in her predecessor’s honor. Washington was a three-time Huge Ten Coach of the 12 months award winner and led the Woman Lions to 4 NCAA tournaments throughout her 12 seasons with the college. Rutgers has made the Huge Dance solely 3 times within the final decade, which means a as soon as dynastic program has a methods to go to regain such billing. However however, how Washington follows up a Corridor of Famer stays one thing to observe.
Extra School Basketball Protection: