With five returning starters and several upperclassmen, the USD women’s basketball team is anticipating a successful 2011-2012 season as they enter the Summit League.
“With all the returners, we’re a lot further along than we’ve ever been as far as being organized and everybody being on the same page,” head coach Ryun Williams said at the basketball Media Day.
The Coyotes finished last season with an overall record of 20-12 and 10-2 in the Great West Conference. They also earned their first ever Division- I post-season win in the first round of the WBI tournament over Idaho, giving the Coyotes momentum coming into this season, according to Williams.
“We were really excited to be part of the tournament,” senior guard Annie Roche said. “We are working to make another post season appearance again this year.”
Despite having 16 home games this season, one of the biggest tests USD faces is their strong new schedule.
“We like our schedule, but it is challenging,” Williams said. “The Summit League is turning into a tough league.”
Junior guard Alexis Yackley said the team will be ready for new season.
“We have experience with our starters but we are inexperienced in our tougher new league,” Yackley said. “Every single night is going to be a battle.”
Because the Coyotes have been very defense-minded in the past, Williams mentioned the team is working to improve on scoring the basketball this season. Three-point shooting and working on inside post play are two keys for the Coyotes this year.
Senior forward Amber Hegge, who was selected to the All-Summit League Post Season 2nd team, is USD’s top returner.
Last season, Hegge averaged 16.9 points and eight rebounds per game and was named to the All-Great West first team for the second straight year.
Another key returning starter for the Coyote defense is senior center Jodie Boss.
Boss recorded 106 blocks last season in her first year with the Coyotes, ranking her third all-time at USD. She was also named the Great West
Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
The other returning starters for the Coyotes are Roche, Yackley and junior guard Tempestt Wilson. Last season, Roche led the Great West Conference in 3-point percentage with 39.7 percent. Yackley will be called upon to run the point for the Coyotes.
Wilson entered the starting line-up right away after transferring from Iowa Western Community College and had ten double figure scoring games.
Roche, Yackley and Wilson were all honorable mention selections to the All-Great West Conference team.
As new members of the Summit League, the Coyotes are excited to rekindle old rivalries with South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
“Those will be fun games for our kids,” Williams said. “We have good players but so do they. This is probably the closest we’ve been to them personnel-wise and I think we can compete very well with those teams up north.”
The Coyotes will open their season at home against non-conference opponent Northern Arizona. According to Williams, the Lumberjacks are a very athletic team which will be a challenging home opener for USD.
The opening game will be held Friday, Nov. 18 in the DakotaDome at 7 p.m.