Women's basketball season preview
The Bulls are ready for a strong season with start this Friday
The Bulls (0-0, 0-0 MAC) are ready to make the most out of their season and their senior players, and make history for UB once again.
Two seasons ago, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack led the women’s basketball team to their first MAC championship. The Bulls feel they have the experience, skill and team culture to have another championship season now that the players from the 2015-2016 season are seniors.
“We are ready; this team is always ready to take the court,” Legette-Jack said. “This is the chance of a lifetime; to watch these young ladies blossom before our eyes. They are unbelievable on this floor, have been working on their craft and I think they are going to challenge a lot of young players and a lot of teams.”
Legette-Jack has brought success to a program that has not been seen since the mid ’90s. She is the most successful women’s basketball coach since the team has joined the MAC. Much of her recent success is credited to her players. The program had two of its best seasons, earning 20-plus wins both years, with senior guard Stephanie Reid at the helm.
The team has an experience factor and proven talent to build around.
“We have such a great group of five [seniors] that I am excited to see what their legacy will be here and to watch them get better and for me to get better as well,” Legette-Jack said.
One of the Bulls’ greatest strengths is their ability to play in transition.
The Bulls outworked the Bloomsburg Huskies (0-0, 0-0 PSAC) in their first exhibition game by creating multiple turnovers with 19 total team steals against Bloomsburg. The Bulls tuckered out the Huskies, who only scored 15 points in the second half. The Bulls have the ability to make outrunning teams a common narrative this season.
“I have never run so much in transition, it is so fun. I have been missing out,” said senior center Cassie Oursler after the Bloomsburg game. “It took me all these years of college, but I see the fun in getting the feed from Reid and putting your hands up to the basket.”
Oursler had 20 points and seven rebounds in the exhibition game.
The Bulls had a weak shooting effort against Bloomsburg, despite their ability to create scoring chances in transition. The team went 20-63 shooting and only recorded one three-point shot the whole game.
“I think we shoot the ball a lot better than we showed,” Legette-Jack said. “We were taking quick shots and I think we have three or four people who can take and make threes. That is something we will work on for our next performance.”
The Bulls have looked sensational on defense after focusing on that in the offseason. The Bulls can still dominate with their ability to create turnovers and not give good looks to the opposing team.
It showed in their early exhibition game as the Huskies had only 11 baskets in the game.
“I think the team did really well defensively in the second half,” Reid said. “I think that was something we needed from the beginning and as the leader of the team that has to come from my example. … In the second half I think we really turned it up and starting pressing and going after the ball.”
The season officially starts against the Delaware Blue Hens (0-0, 0-0 CAA) on Friday. The Bulls’ non-conference schedule is impressive with games against several big conference teams. From Nov. 23-24, the Bulls will play in the San Juan Shootout against the Nebraska Cornhuskers (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) and the Clemson Tigers (0-0, 0-0 ACC).
The Bulls will travel to Tempe, Arizona to play the Arizona State Sun Devils (0-0, 0-0 PAC 12) in the Arizona State Classic on Dec. 2.
Even with the big matchups this month, none of those games have crossed Legette-Jack’s mind.
“I just want to take this season slow. We have five seniors so we should enjoy every moment,” Legette-Jack said. “This is such a special group and we really are just taking it one game at a time.”
Thomas Zafonte is a senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org