AU women’s basketball is looking to build off a surprising 2018-19 season.
The Lady Ravens went 9-16 (5-13 in conference play) which was a drastic improvement from the year before.
The Ravens vastly improved from a winless 2017-18 season. The main cause of the turnaround was a great mix of freshman talent and experienced upperclassmen. The current roster is young, but now possesses even more experience with a talented freshmen class.
“We have some amazing young women in our program,” said Head Coach Lindsay Shade. “We have so many of the right puzzle pieces. These next few months will be about developing the ones we don’t yet have and then putting them together along the way. At the same time, this senior class is incredibly special and I want to be intentional about staying in the present and cherishing all the interactions and moments along the way.
“I am incredibly excited about having so many returning players in our program,” added Shade. “With an experienced nucleus familiar with our offensive and defensive systems, the start of practice has been very different this year.”
Just because they are experienced does not mean that they won’t still have to earn their spot.
Coach Shade does not just want to be a good team; she wants to compete for a championship.
“There is not a shortage of talent in our program,” she continued. “I believe that if we can commit to being disciplined defensively by holding teams to 55 points or less and taking care of the basketball we will position ourselves for success. Becoming physically and mentally tough is a long process and it won’t happen overnight. It is something we will work to chip away at every day. When we can put those three components together, we will be ready to compete for a championship.”
The players are just as excited as coach Shade for the start of the upcoming season.
“I’m excited because we have almost everyone coming back and I feel like we have a lot of talent. We have a great opportunity to be a really good team,” said sophomore point guard Lexi Dellinger.
Dellinger was one of the standout freshmen last year averaging over 14 points and 3.3 assists per game.
“I feel like I’m more mature and I can control the game a little better,” Dellinger added. “Also, I have one year of experience so I can help my teammates as well.”
Not only does the team have a lot of faith in itself, but the coaches around the conference are starting to notice the Ravens’ improvements.
“This year the preseason polls came out and we were ranked number four, which has never happened since I’ve been here,” said senior guard Carly Hackler. “So our goal is definitely getting to the conference tournament and shaking things up a little bit. I think we can beat some pretty good teams. We came pretty close last year and we have everybody back.”
The freshman class has already impressed early in the year. The Ravens come into this season having six freshmen on the roster.
“This freshman class has a high basketball IQ and it’s a good thing because they were forced to hit the ground running with such an experienced nucleus,” Shade said.
The senior class has been through the highs and lows of the program, but have stuck with the team through all the adversity. Now they are ready to cash in on their patience.
“I’m excited for this season,” said Hackler. “Especially just compared to past years and being able to be in a spot where we can compete with the better teams in our conference and be able to show them what we got. Just seeing the progress and finally reaping the rewards of what we’ve worked so hard to accomplish in the last four years.”