Women's basketball prepares for the 2017-18 season
Trust and playing as a team are the focus of Southeast’s women’s basketball team heading into the 2017-18 season after the departure of the Redhawks’ top three leading scorers from last season.
Without Bri Mitchell (16 points per game), Olivia Hackmann (14.4 PPG) and Hannah Noe (10.7 PPG), Southeast is left without the firepower of last year’s squad. One of the players expected to fill part of that void was redshirt junior Carrie Sheppard, who sat out last season after transferring from Missouri, but she tore her left ACL and lateral/medial meniscus during a scrimmage on Aug. 25.
“Our foundation is going to be built on trust,” coach Rekha Patterson said. “We’re going to trust ourselves, we’re going to trust our teammates, we’re going to trust our staff. We’re going to trust that the person next to us has our back, that every day we are bringing it on the floor so we can get better. That’s going to be it, we’re going to trust and it’s going to be about our team.”
While Patterson understands no individual can replace all of their production, depth and being able to score in a variety of ways can help the Redhawks recover from those losses.
“We lost about 60 percent of our scoring and 40 percent of our assists, that’s a lot,” Patterson said. “Right now we don’t have one person that can replace all of that. With Carrie Sheppard going down in the preseason, I think it’s really going to allow us to be a great team where we’re going to have to rely on each other and have each others’ backs and use each other to create opportunities for our team.”
Among those who can create opportunities for her teammates is junior guard Adrianna Murphy, who led the team and was 25th in the nation in assists per game last season with 5.8.
Despite being the team’s smallest player at 5-foot-3, Murphy’s hustle and determination helped her finish third on the team in rebounds last season, and consistently kept possessions alive for the Redhawks.
“She has that ability to just warm your heart and make you feel good about things because she’s the smallest thing out there, and she finds a way to get these rebounds over these bigger players, and she’s on the floor for loose balls,” Patterson said. “She’s like the Energizer Bunny, she never stops.”
Murphy’s non-stop effort has helped her become one of the leaders of the team, but Patterson said she’s seen growth in Murphy’s play just from being on the court and running the offense for two years. Murphy started every game last season, and 26 of 30 as a freshman. Over the course of the past two seasons, Patterson has seen Murphy improve her shooting and cut down on mistakes, while also building confidence.
“You can’t teach experience, you just have to go through it,” Patterson said. “You have to go through the ups and downs of someone who doesn’t have experience running the point, but Adri has experience. She knows what it’s like to play in our conference, go on the road, have to win big games, have to win here at home. She wants to lead this team, she’s part of our leadership council, and I’m glad that she’s our point guard.”
Murphy has shown the ability to run two different styles of offenses each of the previous two seasons. Her freshman year, the Redhawks’ primary scoring option was to go into the post and score points in the paint. This changed drastically last season when Southeast finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference in 3-point field goal percentage. Due to changes in personnel, Patterson is willing to set the offense to whatever the strengths are of the players she has.
“I’m excited to see how we evolve, and I’m blessed to have worked for a lot of different coaches who have done it a lot of different ways, so we’re going to try some different things. But I do think we’re going to try to throw it into the post more than we did last year.”
After finishing in eighth place in the OVC last season, the Redhawks were picked to finish eighth once again in the OVC preseason media poll.