2021-22 Samford Women’s Basketball Season Preview

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Samford women’s basketball team begins its 2021-22 season by playing at Big 10 powerhouse and ninth-ranked Iowa Thursday evening at 6 p.m. in Iowa City. Assistant AD for Broadcast and Digital Media Jon McAfoos sat down recently with Head Coach Carley Kuhns for the 2021-22 Season Preview presented by Coca-Cola.
 
The Bulldogs have won the last two Southern Conference regular season titles. This year’s team returns most of the key contributors to last year’s title, including SoCon Player of the Year Andrea Cournoyer. Kuhns talked a little about what Cournoyer brings to the program.
 
“I’m really excited about a second year with Ace (Cournoyer),” Kuhns said. “It’s totally changed the dynamic of our program, having a player like that, in a number of ways. Not only is she a dynamic player, she ability to score the basketball, plays really hard and it’s changed our program in that way, but also just her work ethic. It’s really set the standard in our locker room for, if you want to be the best, this is what it takes to get there and I’m really proud of her for that.”
 
Shauntai Battle was a key contributor early in the season last year before suffering a season-ending injury. Kuhns touched on what having Battle back will mean to this year’s team.
 
“Shauntai’s probably one of our biggest leaders,” Kuhns said. “She leads by example, she’s a kid that’s always going to do the right thing. I’m really proud of her work ethic, proud of what she’s been through over the last year. A catastrophic injury like that can just set you back and she never wavered. She never wavered in the locker room and never wavered being all in for this team. We’re excited to have her back on the court.”
 
Natalie Armstrong also returns for a fifth year. She is the only player in program history to have over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 100 blocked shots in their careers. Kuhns talked about what Armstrong means to the program.
 
“I’m excited for Natalie to have another year,” Kuhns said. “She was a first team All-Conference player, but I don’t think she left her best basketball on the court last year. With her leadership, the team is just kind of built around her and her presence on the court. It opens up things for a lot of people around her, but now we’ve put some compliments around her, some depth around her so that maybe she doesn’t have to play quite as many minutes so her minutes she’s playing can be way more effective. She’s a joy to be around, everybody loves her, she’s just kind of the face of our program.”
 
Annie Ramil is another key returnee. She led the team in rebounding, averaging 8.2 boards per contest last season. Ramil was named seconds team All-SoCon last season.
 
“She’s an extremely hard worker, she’s going to give everything she’s got on the court when she’s out there, and when she’s on the bench too,” Kuhns said. “She’s a person who’s always talking and is another leader for this team. What Annie brings is that grunt work that maybe not everyone is willing to do. She’s the rebounder, the screener, does all the dirty work. She’s one of those role players that you need to have success. For her to do all of those role things and still get recognized is really big for our team. I’m looking for another big year out of her.”
 
Another returnee this season is Mallory Hampton, who saw significant playing time as a freshman last season. Kuhns talked about what she expects to see out of Hampton this season.
 
“I’m really proud of Mallory,” Kuhns said. “I think she’s gained some confidence. With Shauntai going down, that kid really got to play extended minutes that she might not have gotten as a freshman and it’s only going to help us this year. The experience she was given on the court last year is valuable to this team. She’s really gained some confidence, will run the point for us and really kind of puts this team on her back. I’m proud of the progress she’s made, and I think that kid is only going to get better over the course of her career here.”
 
Ramil’s older sister Olivia Ramil has transferred into the program for her final college season. Kuhns talked about the experience the older Ramil brings to this year’s squad.
 
“She’s definitely the most experienced player (on the team),” Kuhns said. “We talk a lot about that, her using her wealth and all of the different schools she’s played for, different experiences and being able to use that to help our team in a number of ways, in the locker room, on the court. She knows what it takes to win. She’s been through a lot of different things as a player. That’s huge for our team, her experience, her maturity, her leadership. The kid just knows how to play. She adds some depth in the post for us, she’s a different kind of post player than we’ve had in the past. It will allow us to play a little different when she’s in the game.”
 
Another transfer to this year’s team is Kaylee Sticker from Clemson. Unfortunately, she has suffered a season-ending injury and will be unable to play this season.
 
“She’s working, she’s rehabbing,” Kuhns said. “We’re looking forward for her to have an opportunity to wear a Samford uniform. You’ll see her on the sideline though, with some energy.”
 
Kuhns talked about some of the freshmen that have joined the program that she is excited about.
 
“I think Sussy Ngulefac will have a chance to have some impact,” Kuhns said. “She’s a big post presence, adding some depth in the post, and hoping to get her some experience this year so she can step in when Natalie graduates, when Olivia graduates. Sanaa Redmond out of Philly, I think she has a chance to have some impact this year, get some experience as a freshman, which sometimes freshmen don’t get experience. So, we’re excited to throw her in the mix a little bit and get her some experience as well.”
 
The Bulldogs will once again play a tough schedule this season. The team opens the season at ninth-ranked Iowa Thursday night at 6 p.m. The team also plays Power 5 programs Colorado, Ole Miss and LSU.
 
“I wanted to challenge this team,” Kuhns said. “I felt, with a core group returning and some leadership and some people that have been battle tested, I just really wanted to challenge us early. I feel like that has really helped this program the last two years, to go play bigger, stronger teams, and have seen it pay off throughout our conference season. It’s not good when you’re going through it, every November, December, it’s challenging, but our ability to get through that adversity and play really good teams and really good players and different types of styles of basketball so that when we get into conference play, hopefully we’ve seen it all.”
 
Samford was picked to finish second in the SoCon preseason polls, behind preseason favorite Mercer. Kuhns said she expects the entire league to be much improved this season and for there to be stiff competition for the conference championship.
 
“I really think everyone is going to be better this year,” Kuhns said. “I think our conference is getting better and everyone is getting better players. Everyone’s getting older, a lot of teams are having their COVID players hang around. I’m just excited to see how it all shakes out.”
 
With the tremendous success the program has had in Kuhns’ first two seasons, she talked about what the next steps are for the team as it continues to improve.
 
“I think we’ve raised the bar for what the expectation is in this program,” Kuhns said. “And now we have a little bit of a target on our back and so for us the next step is maintaining a consistent product on the floor and showing up night-in, night-out to be great. What happened to us last year, getting upset in the first round of the tournament is going to end up being a big moment in this program and a big learning moment. We’ve learned a lot from it that you’ve got to show up every single game to play and you’re going to get every team’s best shot. So, maintaining a consistent product on the floor, every single game, night-in and night-out is a step that I would like to see this program take from last year to this year.”
 
The home opener for the Bulldogs is on Sunday, Nov. 14, when the Bulldogs host Montevallo. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. in the Pete Hanna Center. Admission to all home women’s basketball games is free.

 

Follow The Bulldogs
For the latest news and information on Samford women’s basketball, visit the official website for Samford Athletics at SamfordSports.com. Fans can also follow the Bulldogs on social media at /SamfordWomen’sBasketball (Facebook), @SamfordWBB (Instagram) and @SamfordWBB (Twitter).
 
 

Print Friendly Version
Samford University, Women's Basketball Tags: