The Slippery Rock University (1-1) women’s basketball team will be looking to move forward from a disappointing 2013-2014 campaign.
SRU is returning some familiar faces from last year, as well as nine new players.
Coming off of a season where the Rock went 6-20 overall, 3-13 in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, new acting head coach, Bobby McGraw, has been given the opportunity to be in charge of the women’s basketball program this season.
In his effort to bring a new culture to the locker room, McGraw was able to persuade new assistant coach Ryenn Micaletti to join his coaching staff.
Micaletti spent last season as an assistant coach with rival Indiana University (Pennsylvania). Prior to joining IUP, she spent two seasons at Point Park University, where she helped the women’s team to a 48-14 overall record during her tenure.
McGraw hopes that his team will take big strides on the defensive end this season, after being beat up by opposing offenses a year ago.
Last season, SRU allowed 75.6 points per game and were ranked 264 out of 287 in total defense, and McGraw is adamant about getting the women to play together as a stronger defensive unit.
“It’s not about coming up with different strategies on defense,” McGraw said. “It’s about getting the girls to come together and get a smothering defense.”
On the court, the Green and White will benefit from the return of 2013-2014 All-PSAC first team forward D’asia Chambers.
Chambers, who is expected to be in the conversation for All-PSAC player of the year, averaged a team high of 17.8 points per game (51.7 shooting percentage) last season and another team high in rebounds at 8.7.
Chambers was also able to contribute 44 assists, as well as being a defensive force with 19 blocks and 40 steals.
She has also been selected as a member of the preseason first team All-PSAC team, meaning that a lot of people will be watching her specifically to see how big of an impact she can have.
Also among the returnees is junior guard Erica Aiello and junior dual position player Megan Hardiman. Aiello finished last season ranked third in the conference in assists with 4.5 per game, also being able to score 8.5 points per game and a team high in three point shooting percentage of .405 (34-84).
Hardiman started 25 games as a sophomore, averaging 5.5 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1 steal per game.
Hardiman also led the Rock in free throw percentage, going 48-64 from the line (75 percent).
The other returning players for SRU are senior forward Danielle Garroutte, junior guard Rebecca Olkosky, senior guard Bridget McClure, and sophomore guard Kassidy O’Keefe.
The Rock also welcomes nine new faces to the program, including four incoming freshman, four junior college recruits, and one transfer student.
Sophomore forward Sam Smith and junior forward Sorriyah Ranger are both junior college recruits joining the Green and White from Southwester Illinois College.
Among other junior college recruits, junior guard Taylor Siggers also joins SRU from Indiana River College and junior guard BreeAnna Gross from Garden City College.
The Rock also welcomes sophomore transfer from East Stroudsburg University, Audrey Stapleton. Stapleton started 10 games for the Warriors, averaging 3.8 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists on the season.
The freshmen class for the Green and White includes Sierra Fordham, Mallory Heinle, Lindsey Horman, and Shannon Jack.
The young additions to the team could mean that the Rock could make big strides in the development of the program, and could build strong relationships for the future.
“With 16 different girls on this team, we have plenty of different opportunities for them to make impacts in games,” McGraw said. “It’s really all about getting them to come together and play as one unit. These girls are already beginning to buy in to what Coach Micaletti and I are trying to get them to understand about the game, especially on the defensive end.”