After the Marshall women’s basketball team finished last season with a record of 9-20 overall (3-13 Conference USA), the Herd looks to turn things around with a new season.
The Herd women take on Indiana State today at home for its season opener, and head coach Tony Kemper said he is hopeful for his team.
“It is a group that is still learning roles,” Kemper said. “I do think that we can be a good basketball team.”
Kemper said that despite last year’s struggles, the team still had some positives, and they plan on carrying those things over to this season.
“Last year wasn’t the season that we wanted,” Kemper said. “There were some positives last season even in a struggle year. I think they were fighters last year when things weren’t going their way and I do think that carried over.”
The Herd used the offseason to work on conditioning, rebounding and growing as individual players and as a team. Kemper said he sees improvements.
“We have talked a lot about our conditioning,” Kemper said. “I think that has improved and is still something that we can still make strides in. We talked a lot about improving our rebounding, last year rebounding was a big deficiency for us and that is something that we have to close the gap on if we are going to have a chance to have a better team so they have worked on that a lot.”
The Herd tallied 988 rebounds as opposed to opponents’ 1,113. Marshall out-rebounded an average of 12.9 times per game in conference play, which represented the worst mark in the league by a wide margin.
Senior guard Shayna Gore, who was second team All-Conference last season, returns to the court for the Herd. She is ranked first in program history in three-pointers with 207 and fifth in points with 1,439.
“We saw what happened to us last year and we don’t want that to happen to us again,” Gore said. “So [last season] has motivated us, and the ranking has motivated us to do better so I think that is going to help a lot.”
C-USA has Marshall ranked 13th out of 14 teams in the C-USA preseason polls. FIU was the lone team picked to finish worse than the Thundering Herd.
Another returner for the Herd is junior Khadaijia Brooks, who returned from a leg injury. She credits the team’s chemistry and said it will be the key to a successful season.
“This is a team where we get along very well,” Brooks said. “We laugh together, we have fun together, we go out together, we support other teams together. I think in terms of that, that chemistry will rely on the court and help us win games.”
Redshirt senior guard Taylor Porter was also out last season and is an important returning player for the Herd. Porter scored 24 points against Penn State in 2016.
“To have those two players sitting out a year ago—those are two people who really know what it takes at this level,” Kemper said. “Getting them back will be really nice for us.”
Other returning players for the Herd include Logan Fraley, Kristen Mayo, Ashley Saintgene, Tana Driver, Taylor Pearson, Brianna Toney and Jovana Vucetic.
The team welcomes freshmen Lorelei Roper, Kia Sivils and Aerial Adkins, along with junior college transfer Princess Clemons.
The Herd also made two new additions to its coaching staff in the offseason with assistant coach Adria Crawford and director of basketball operations Liz Brown.
“(Crawford and Brown) are both young, they both have a lot of energy,” Kemper said. “They relate well with the players, which is pretty important in this day and age. I have been very pleased with both of them.”
Sydney Shelton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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