WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Squad hits court with new goals

See also: Katie Meier

The University of Miami women’s basketball team is preparing for the 2007-08 season, which begins Nov. 9 against Florida Atlantic.

Coach Katie Meier, who is looking to replace last year’s leading scorer Renee Taylor, wants her team to play with more inspiration and motivation. The Canes are using last season’s subpar record (11-19) to fuel their fire.

“They need to play with a chip on their shoulder,” she said. “I want them to be hungrier.”

Entering her third season at the helm, Meier is leaving many positions and a lot of playing time open to competition. With six newcomers – four of them freshmen – there is sure to be enough competition to go around.

The Canes’ leading returning scorer, senior guard Maurita Reid, is set to join the starting lineup with fellow returning starters guard Charmaine Clark, a sophomore, and senior guard Albrey Grimsley. Several freshmen, including Epiphany Woodson and Briyana Blair, also figure to be a significant part of the rotation.

“Epiphany is a solid point guard. There’s a real maturity to her,” Meier said of the heavily recruited guard from Charlotte, N.C. The coach also has high praise for her two junior college transfers, sophomore forward Diane Barnes and junior center Latoya Drake, calling them “special” talents.

Meier said that she wants her team, which was outscored by an average of four points a game last year, to change its style of play and push the tempo on offense. She believes the younger players are more than capable of creating a fresh start for the Canes on offense.

“It’s going to be a guard-heavy offense, and I want there to be constant motion,” Meier said.

It is also a system that will prevent the team from being bogged down on offense and looking for one go-to player on every possession, a trap they fell into last year by relying too heavily on Taylor.

Meier said last year’s team was devoid of dimension, and she is optimistic that this team’s spread-the-wealth approach will lead to more offense and victories.

“All it matters is who’s hitting them in crunch time,” she said.

Meier is confident that the new offensive strategies, combined with a roster of talent, will allow the Canes to reach success in the conference and postseason.

“Our goal is postseason play,” she said. “We definitely expect to finish in the top half of the ACC.”

Miami’s last postseason appearance came in the 2006 National Invitation Tournament and they last played in the NCAA Tournament in 2004.

Last year the ACC produced two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament – North Carolina and Duke – and also boasts 2006 champion Maryland. Finishing in the upper tier of this conference may be a tough battle for the Canes, who finished 11th last season.

The Hurricanes open conference play with a home game against No. 9 Duke on Jan. 5.

Prior to conference play, the Canes host Michigan on Nov.19 as part of the first ever Big Ten/ACC Women’s Challenge.

Jon Moss may be contacted at j.moss@umiami.edu.