Monday marked the first day of practice for the University of Miami’s women’s basketball team looking to find a new identity and emerging talent after returning no pre or post season All Atlantic Coast Conference honorees for the first time in several years.
Head coach Katie Meier, in her ninth season at the helm of the Hurricane women’s basketball program, is looking to get back into the NCAA tournament and improve upon a disappointing first round exit last year. It will be difficult, returning a very young team that will heavily rely on seniors Krystal Saunders and Maria Brown.
“It’s a big change for us to come in without an all-conference player returning,” Meier said. “Krystal’s the captain and then Maria and Jassany are our co-captains, is how we did it this year.”
Jassany Williams, a red shirt junior, will be a new face on the court this year but she’s been in the program a year already. She sat out last year after transferring from Auburn after her sophomore season. She’s a South Florida native and will add size to an otherwise small team at 6’2 along side the 6’1 Brown.
The bulk of the offensive load, however, will fall to Saunders.
“I think Krystal’s going to have a huge season for us—she’s ready for it,” says Meier.
“She is the most coachable, she’s just a wonderful young lady. There’s not a player that could finish my sentences more than Krystal Saunders. She knows exactly what we’re thinking, why we’re doing it what we’re doing, and she’s always been that way since the moment she stepped on campus.”
Saunders will be needed in a major way, as well as Brown. That’s because the team is really young. Miami returns a lot of players who haven’t seen much action on the court. One of those players who may emerge, however, is freshman Adrienne Motley from Virginia. Coach Meier really liked how her young players responded to the first official practice session, however.
“We’re young, but they really stayed focused, they stayed on each other, they were listening to the coaches, so I’m excited about that.”
There’s a mixture of excitement and anxiety for this Hurricane team. This will probably be a true test of the strength of this program and its growth over the past several years.
“I have a lot of confidence that this team will represent in games what we’ve been working on in practice,” Meier said. “I don’t have any question that they’re all doing just trying to do exactly what we need them to do. There’s a good humility to this team. There’s confidence, but they’re pretty humble. They just want to be great, and they’re asking us how.”
The Hurricanes begin their season this fall at home against North Florida on November 8th at the BankUnited Center.
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