Fresh faces, high expectations are welcomed to Ball State Women’s Basketball

It’s quite literally a fresh start for Ball State Women’s Basketball.

With a 12-player roster consisting of six freshmen, the team is working with a fairly clean slate for the upcoming season.

Last year saw quite a bitter ending for the Cardinals. After losing in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament, the team had a chance to redeem itself in the WNIT. While they were victorious over Middle Tennessee in the first round, their tournament run was cut short by Purdue, who they had defeated during the regular season.

“This team is different top to bottom from years prior,” head coach Brady Sallee said. “Not only with the six freshmen, but the returning players’ roles are changing as well. Those who were with us last year have good experience and have been great at leading by example on and off the court.”

Following the departure of guard Carmen Grande along with the graduation of Frannie Frazier, Destiny Washington and Moriah Monaco, Sallee was left with one starter from the previous season and a number of spots to fill on the roster.

“It’s not about managing the expectations. It’s about embracing them,” Sallee said at the basketball media day press conference. “I feel good about the talent, and their willingness to embrace those expectations is why they’re here. They want to wear Ball State across their chests and live up to it.”

Sallee said new beginnings are on the horizon for the Cardinals as the team has added a lot of players to the roster. Freshman Thelma Dis Agustsdottir, a recruit from Reykanesbaer, Iceland, played in the Icelandic Dominos League where she averaged 15 points per game in 2018 and earned the title of most valuable player for team Keflavik the year prior.

Freshmen Blake Smith, who ranked in the top 60 in the state as a junior at Carmel High School, and Abi Haynes, who earned all-state accolades her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, are promising additions to the team as well.

“A major focus for us is going in to each game knowing that we can win and having a good mentality,” junior guard Jasmin Samz said. “Maintaining that mental focus is a huge part of the game, just as much as actually getting out there and playing to the best of our ability each and every night.”

Samz is the only returning starter from the 2017-18 season. As a sophomore, Samz shot 39 percent from the three-point line and recorded 40 steals on the season. Sallee describes her as a leader with good experience and a good head on her shoulders.

“Jasmin is someone who has built a lot of credibility through her hard work,” Sallee said. “She has already stepped up to the plate and started doing what needs to be done as a leader. Everybody knows that her heart’s in the right place, so when she speaks, they all want to listen.”

Other returning players include sophomore Oshlynn Brown, who was first off the bench last season, and senior Nakeya Penny. Brown saw minutes in every game last year and totaled 269 points, and Penny added 149 of her own.

With a combination of veterans and rookies, the Cardinals look to continue to build on the culture of Ball State Basketball and look to a hopeful future ahead.

Contact Gabi Glass with any comments at grglass@bsu.edu or on Twitter @gabiglassbsu

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