"Play in March"; 2015 women's basketball season previewNovember 11, 2015
BREVARD, N.C. – With its most experience lineup since joining the NCAA ranks in 2008, head coach Shannon Reid has high hopes for the Brevard College women’s basketball 2015-16 season.
“When you look at our current roster it is filled with familiar faces from last season,” Reid said. “We lost two contributors with only one being in the starting rotation. We have a lot of returners, and a strong senior class, which should translate well on the court.”
Brevard returns 73 percent of its court time, with the current team accumulating 3852 minutes of action last season. The Tornados tied its program record for most South Atlantic Conference victories with six, matching the 2013-14 campaign, while posting the second-most wins overall.
Offensively, the unit scored the third most points per game in the NCAA era while making 33 percent of its three point shots, second best in the NCAA era. Brevard averaged 7.9 steals and 3.9 blocks last season, ranking in the top half of the conference in both while the blocks were the most in the NCAA era.
Leading the team are Katie Williams and Madison Lenox, who earned the highest recognition from the South Atlantic Conference coaches in the preseason polls with First Team All-Conference honors.
“Williams and Lenox both deserve the honor,” Reid explained. “It’s the first time we’ve had a player make preseason first team, it shows the positive progression the program has been making.”
In the 2014-15 campaign, Williams and Lenox were the top scoring duo in the conference averaging 16.8 and 15.3 points per game. Williams, a senior from Robbinsville, North Carolina, was one of the most accurate shooters in the league from beyond the arc with a 42.4 clip with an 86.7 free throw percentage, both ranking in the top five. Her sharpshooting last season earned her all-South Atlantic Conference second team honors as well as first team all-state in the College Division, comprised of all non-Division I programs, by the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association.
The highlight of Williams’ season came against Lenoir-Rhyne on Jan. 31, when the senior scored a program-record 35 points in an 83-72 win in a televised match. Brevard will have a home game broadcasted on television, but the date has not been chosen yet.
Lenox, a junior from Raleigh, North Carolina, led the squad with 5.4 rebounds per game, 19th in the SAC. The junior was one of two players to see the court in all 26 contests, scoring double digit points in 21. She established herself as one of the elite defenders in the conference with averages of two steals and one block per match, she was one of two people to average at least one of each.
“They will be entering this season with marks on their backs now that the conference has acknowledged them as elites,” said Reid. “The opposing team will focus their efforts and make defensive plays keyed on stopping them, so the rest of the team will decide the outcome of the game in how they step up.”
Among those is Hadara Bannister, a senior point guard who was third on the team in minutes played last season and second in assists.
“Bannister is one of the best point guards in the conference,” stated Reid. “She is a perfect example of a ‘stat filler’, whenever we need something done I can always rely on her. She is our best on-ball defender, so every night she is on the opposition’s best guard and in a league as deep as ours that is no easy task.”
With the departure of Taylor Hiatt, the Tornados will look to a new player to take her role in the paint.
“Center has been our biggest question mark heading into the season,” Reid said. “Last season we had depth at the position with Hiatt playing most of the minutes, this season we will be looking towards Lynsey Crisp and Whitney DeMoss to accompany Shelby Wolfe down low. DeMoss showed glimpses of her potential as a freshman so this year I am excited to see what she can do with a season under her belt.”
Wolfe was the third leading scorer for the Tornados, chipping in 7.3 points per game. She averaged 5.2 rebounds with 2.3 coming on the offensive end, ranking 13th in the conference.
“Since this senior class stepped foot on campus our program has only improved,” Reid concluded. “Every season we have grown and moved in a positive direction. This season, the team have decided to make ‘play in March’ their slogan since it is our ultimate goal to play a game in March.” March is infamous in athletics for the college basketball postseason.