Miami looks to new leadership after losing three dominant seniors

Photo credit: Josh White

There’s going to be a brand new look for the University of Miami women’s basketball team this season.

Adrienne Motley, Jessica Thomas and Keyona Hayes – three 1000-point scoring seniors – are all gone. Now, Miami will have to rely on a group of returning players who primarily came off the bench last season and a few talented freshmen with a lot to prove.

Coach Katie Meier has lost players to professional leagues many times before.

“I’ve been on this ride before, and I can go back to eight years ago and pick those practices out and realize where I was at this time and not panic,” Meier said. “I’ve already gone through seven notepads. That’s just me free thinking and working through the plays – the offense and the defense.”

The Hurricanes return nine players from last season, but none of the them have averaged more than eight points per game.

Junior guard Laura Cornelius, who would have been the team’s leading scorer coming into the opener, is out for the season after tearing her ACL in the offseason.

A lot will fall on the shoulders of the UM freshmen. Miami’s 2017 recruiting class ranked No. 13 in the nation based on ESPNW. The class consists of Kelsey Marshall, Endia Banks, Mykea Grey, Taylor Mason and Rebecca Ripley.

“They’re very gritty, they’re fast, they’re physical and they each bring something different to the floor.” senior forward Khaila Prather said. “They have fit in very well, chemistry wise, with the rest of the team, and they just need to learn our system.”

Of the nine returning players, five averaged more than 10 minutes per game last year. Because of the loss in experience, Meier expects all of them to have a chance to show off their skills this season.

The Canes expect seniors Keyanna Harris, Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey to be leaders and replace some of the production lost from last year’s graduating seniors. They will also count on a trio of European players in junior forward Emese Hof, sophomore guard Sarah Mortensen and sophomore center Serena-Lynn Geldof.

“Just being focused every day, every practice, every time I touch the floor and lead to efficiency and effective play,” Davenport said on being a leader. “Definitely going to have to step up big time. One of the goals of mine for this season is to double my stats from last year.”

UM believes this team can continue the success it has had the past couple of years. Having made the postseason for eight consecutive seasons, the Hurricanes want to show they know how to win like the teams in the past.

“In the past, I don’t know how many years we’ve made the NCAA tournament, so I think that’s definitely a goal for us,” Hof said.

Miami open its season at home against FIU at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Watsco Center.