Women’s basketball coach, team aim high in 2016
The women’s basketball team will attempt to rid the taste of last season when they welcome St. Edwards University to Hofheinz Pavilion for an exhibition game Sunday.
After going just 6-24 last season, which included a 2-16 American Athletic Conference record, head coach Ronald Hughey believes that there is reason for optimism in 2016.
A match with St. Edwards will be the first step.
“The last couple of years have been tremendously hard, but hard doesn’t own me or this program, so that is why we always overcome it,” Hughey said. “Now you have to refine it, retune it and make some growing pains. We are going to get there every single day, but the difference is we are going to get there with more wins than losses this year.”
Hughey said that the team has their best recruiting class in the last 10 years, which features two recruits that are among the top 100 in the nation. Coupled with Serithia Hawkins — the unanimous pick for freshman all-conference a year ago — the team is poised for improvement in the upcoming season.
Hawkins led the team last season by averaging 8.8 points per game and in rebounds with a clip of 7.4 per game.
The team will also rely on the services of transfer guard Chyanne Butler, who performed well after sitting out the first 15 games of the season due to NCAA transfer rules.
“We just need to believe in each other and pick each other up when we’re down,” Butler said. “We can’t let people get in the way of us. We have to make sure that all of us trust and believe that we can do it.”
Butler showed the ability to score in bunches, highlighted by a career-high performance of 17 points against Southern Methodist University on Jan. 17.
Women’s basketball will rely on talented youth to improve their win total and conference position, where they are projected to finish last again.
“I love the opportunity to be the underdog, and our kids really knew it going in,” Hughey said. “It just adds the fuel to our fire. One of the two things we have to do is just show up to play every day. We show up and be who we are. We won’t have any problems with that.”
Over the offseason, the team had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to both practice and play exhibition games against teams from the country. The trip gave the team a chance to work together and develop chemistry before any fall workouts had begun.
Hughey believes that this experience will be valuable across multiple fronts.
“We played three games over there, and it was an opportunity that was just life-changing,” Hughey said. “We put in a new offense, so we had a chance to see it and incorporate it. We won every game by 30-40 points, but the games weren’t the biggest thing for us. The biggest thing was the practices that we had the opportunity to have there.”
With the incorporation of a new fast-paced offense, the third-year head coach is excited about the prospects in the new season.
Tip-off against St. Edwards University is scheduled for 2 p.m.