After getting upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the No. 14-ranked Hurricanes women’s basketball team looks to bounce back by using its depth and experience to make a deep run into the postseason this year.
With every player from last season’s team returning except for one, Miami has experience at all positions on the roster. Nine players played significant minutes last season, so the team will use its experience to its advantage.
“Our depth is an absolute strength,” Head Coach Katie Meier said in a press conference. “You could put lineups together with 11 possible starters, and I’ve never had that.”
The team is led by its senior guards Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas, along with redshirt senior forward Keyona Hayes. The Canes return all of their young talent as well, including Dutch sophomores Laura Cornelius and Emese Hof. The international players have improved not only their games, but also their leadership skills on and off the court.
“Emese and Laura are warriors and are willing to do all the little things,” Meier said. “They’ve really evolved and both are very special.”
With so many players returning, Miami has been able work through issues at a much faster pace than ever before, and it’s leading to a higher level of play.
“The questions that are being asked to me right now are so high level for October questions,” Meier said. “As a coach, you’re like ‘oh my gosh, great question.’ We are advanced there, and it’s my job to keep them eager.”
Along with a strong group of returning players, the Hurricanes have four newcomers that will add to the depth of the team. The freshmen are guard/forward Sarah Mortensen from Denmark and center Serena-Lynn Geldof from Belgium. Redshirt junior guard/forward Shaneese Bailey and junior guard Neydja Petithomme will get their first action with the Canes this season. Bailey transferred to Miami from FAU and will be able to play right away, while Petithomme transferred from Auburn, but won’t be able to play until the spring semester.
“Sarah can pick and pop and shoot the three, and Serena is really skilled and can run like a deer,” Meier said of her two freshman. “Shaneese Bailey is explosive; she has closing speed that is frightening.”
As a team with plenty of experience and talented newcomers, the Hurricanes look to prove that they are a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. Miami struggled to get big wins against ranked opponents last season, but this year’s team wants to shake off the struggles of the past and focus on winning one game at a time.
“This is a whole new team with a different identity [from last year’s team], and the pressure is already there; the pressure is there in our non-conference schedule,” Meier said. “If you’re Miami, you got the U on your chest, and you’re supposed to win.”
The Canes will open their season on the road against No. 19-ranked University of Kentucky at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11 in Memorial Coliseum.