2021-22 WOMEN’S BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW
Basketball season is right around the corner and Head Coach Mike Ricks and his staff are excited for his team to be back on the court and have fans back in action.
With the return of 12 athletes, the Panthers are ready to battle it out on the court and compete for a conference title.
After graduating only one senior last year, the 12 returning panthers are ready to compete for a conference title this year.
“We returned 12 athletes from last year and they all have on-court experience because of how we played last year,” said Coach Ricks. “Josie Wannemuehler and Cassady Quintana have been with the program all four years and have gone through a big style change from their sophomore year to junior year, in a middle of a pandemic, and it suited them both really good. They have provided a lot of leadership and positive energy their entire time here.”
Coach Ricks and his staff are thrilled about the freshman group joining the team. The freshman class brings a lot to the table for the Panthers from skills on the court to personality off the court.
“We are excited about all of the freshman coming in,” said Head Coach Mike Ricks. “There is seven of them and they all bring something unique to the table. This is the first year we have got multiple kids from Tennessee, and I think that area has good high school basketball. We are excited about those athletes and the versatility they bring to the table. We switched to a faster style of play a year ago and I believe our recruiting class fits the style of our program. My favorite thing about this group is how excited they seem to be here. We are excited about the influx of new talent, personalities, and what they bring to the table.”
The guard position will see familiar faces that will help the Panthers run the court in a fast and smart form of play.
“Anna Beth Giles came in as a freshman and had a tremendous work ethic,” explained Coach Ricks. “She drives to the basket and plays with this energy that hardly ever seems to get tired. Alex Lewis is one of the most athletic kids we have and a tremendous competitor. She is someone that is physical and tough when she is guarding you. She pushes the tempo and is a great vocal leader, that is something you always need. Imani Thompson is one of the fastest players I ever coached. She had a lot of good moments last year as a freshman and I expect her to grow and develop as we continue to move forward.”
With the fast tempo offense the Panthers run, the forward position can look a little different from your average forward position.
“Audra Putman has improved over the course of her freshman year and made herself a great three-point shooter,” he said. “She worked on putting the ball down and getting to the basket in the off-season. Brooke Westhoelter was our leading scorer last year. She can shoot it from anywhere. If you are playing against us, you must know where she is. Brooke can see things before it happens and does a lot to create great offense.”
The Panthers center position is not your normal five spot getting action inside and outside of the paint.
“Charlton Kelley is one of our best three-point shooters and that’s not normally something you would say about a center,” said Coach Ricks. “She can step out and make the three, be physical around the basket, and emerged as a leader for us. Lakisha Pullen is more of a traditional center. She has some great around the basket moves. Lakisha is physical, fast, and runs the floor very hard. Summer Killin is a solid around the basket player for us. She can score, has a good touch on her shot, and a good rebounder.”
Returning from a 5-12 record last season, Coach Ricks and his team are ready to step on the court and compete for a conference title this year.
“We have the tough exhibition at Jacksonville State and those are always interesting games,” said Coach Ricks. “We are glad to open with four straight games at home and host our tournament in November. Last year we did not get to play in front of fans, I think our style of play will be intriguing for people to see. We travel to Millsaps for a tournament in late November. One of the teams we play is the University of St. Thomas out of Houston, which is where I coached before BSC. Our conference schedule is always challenging, anybody can beat you on any given night. All the coaches in our league does a tremendous job. We are looking forward to the non-conference schedule to prepare us for our conference games.”
With the success of receiving second place in D3 offense last year, the Panthers are prepared to take first place and more.
“We want to finish over 500 overall, in the top four in our league, and have an opportunity to host first round in the conference tournament,” said Coach Ricks. “One thing we proved last year, with our style of play, is if you are doing it right you could beat anybody. Our team talks about us having the second highest team scoring average of all time last year. We want to lead the country in scoring and offensive rebounds per game. Winning and improving every day is the most important thing, just to make sure it is a great experience for everybody.”
One thing is certain the Panthers are ready to step on the court and compete with every team on their schedule this season. The journey will be tough, but it is nothing they can not handle. Coach Ricks and his staff believe his team has what it takes to have a successful system.