The Miami women’s basketball team is coming off quite possibly the two best seasons in program history. The Hurricanes compiled a record of 54-11 during that time, earning a No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament both years.
Coach Katie Meier now faces the daunting task of replacing the two players most responsible for the team’s success. Shenise Johnson and Riquna Williams, arguably the two best women’s basketball players to ever don a Miami uniform, have both moved on to the WNBA.
Senior All-ACC guard Stefanie Yderstrom showed early leadership during Miami’s 85-63 exhibition win over Nova Southeastern on Monday, proving she is looking to fill the emotional void left by Johnson.
“I got to step up as leader and that’s something I’ve been working on and [Meier and I have] been talking about it a lot,” Yderstrom said. “I have to talk to my teammates, make sure they know the plays, that the energy is up and all that stuff.”
Sophomore guard Suriya McGuire, a former top-20 recruit, looks poised to step in for Williams.
“She just has been really focused on her game and contributing,” Meier said of McGuire. “But she’s also trying to take all this amazing athleticism and fit it into a system to where she’s not overdoing it … She’s just so fun to coach, I mean, she’s a super special young lady. She’s ready, she’s ready for the shoes she has to fill.”
Senior center Shawnice “Pepper” Wilson does return, and senior forward Jessica Capers showed during the exhibition that she can contribute down low, too. Capers finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
“I’m really proud of Jessica Capers because she’s been working her way up,” Meier said. “I’d say the first practice she probably wasn’t even in our top eight … She got real vocal, brings a ton of energy and she just moved her way right up to the first post off the bench.”
Also returning is senior Morgan Stroman, whose 2011-2012 campaign was cut short due to an Achilles injury.
“She was pretty active,” Meier said of Stroman’s recovery. “She was all over the court, typical ‘Stro, but really fun for me to have her back, and [she brought] tons of emotion.”
UM enters the year ranked No. 23 in the coaches poll and No. 24 in the Associated Press poll. Miami is set for several notable showdowns, including nonconference home games against No. 16 Tennessee and No. 8 Penn State in November.