The women’s basketball team makes their return in November and are ready to turn the tides.
In last year’s season opener, the women’s basketball team put a beating on the La Verne Leopards and surpassed triple digits as they rolled to a 105-43 win in the Dee Events Center. The rest of the season winning became a rarity due the young ‘Cats struggles. They finished with a 6-25 record and then lost their two stars to graduation. How will they move forward this season? By moving on.
The Weber State women’s basketball program and Head Coach Velaida Harris are about to enter the second year of their union and the team is looking forward to the 2019-20 season.
“I’m excited to show everyone what we have been doing this summer; it’s going to be something special,” junior forward Kayla Watkins said. “What’s done in the dark, comes to light.”
As mentioned earlier, Coach Harris and her staff lost their two best players to graduation. The program also had two players transfer and continue their playing careers at schools that are closer to home. To combat the loss of players, WSU brought in 5 freshmen and junior college transfers to balance the team at 14 players.
Senior Dominique Williams spoke on the new additions to the team, “What gives me confidence about this recruiting class is that they have a will to win, get better and work hard,” Williams added, “Those are my favorite type of people to play with because you can’t teach that stuff. It’s just something that you have to have in you.”
With tons of young talent coming in, there is a ton of potential for Coach Harris’s future ‘Cats, but those young players will not be quite ready to carry the load. With the Wildcats losing two starters, it is up to the returning players to bring in wins.
Players this year seem to have more confidence as they are now under the second year of a new system and have had more time to prepare.
“I’m really excited. I think Coach holds high standards, and as a team, we’re almost there when it comes to reaching them. We’re just ready and more prepared,” said Shianne Johnson.
Johnson played in all 27 games for the Wildcats, she was a starter in 24 of those games.
Johnson also spoke about the lessons that we learned from the previous season, “We had a very young team last year and we weren’t meshed well. This year we are meshed, we learned how to play together and the culture is better. We’re starting to learn more about the game.”
The Wildcats will take the floor for the first time on Wednesday night against the Western Colorado Mountaineer in an exhibition match. While this game does not count for anything, it will be important for the Wildcats to get in-game reps before beginning a schedule that will be anything but easy.
The first time the ‘Cats take the floor, they will be in Los Angeles at Pauley Pavillion as they tip off their season against the UCLA Bruins. The following week, they’ll travel to Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle to battle with the Washington Huskies. On December 7th, it’s a date with New Mexico State who posted a 26-7 record. The last of the tough four-game slate will be an in-state clash with the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. This gives the Wildcats three shots against Pac-12 schools.
The new look Wildcats are hungry, excited and ready to prove people wrong. It all officially begins on Nov. 5 vs the Bruins.
WSU’s 2019-2020 roster
Seniors – Dominique Williams and Gina O’Brien
Juniors- Kayla Watkins, Shianne Johnson, Liz Graves, Aloma Solovi
Sophomores – Ashley Thoms, Ciara James, Kori Pentzer
Freshmen- Ula Chamberlain, Daryn Hikok, Vicky Parra, Jadyn Mathews
The new kids in town
Ula Chamberlain is a 5’9 guard that was a McDonald’s All-American nominee. She averaged 20 points per game and her career high was 42 points.
Daryn Hikok, a 5’10 forward, was nominated for the Gatorade state player of the year during her junior year of high school.
Both Chamberlain and Hikok hail from the same state as Coach Harris: Oregon.
Vicky Parra is a 6’2 forward that adds length to the team. Parra was born in Valencia, Spain and helped guide her team to third place in the 2018-19 Spain Championship.
Shynna Loiland, a 6’2 guard that was a Top 10 “Miss. Basketball” candidate in the state of Minnesota. She averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds.
Aloma Solovi, she is a 5’7 guard that transferred from Sheridan College in Wyoming. Solovi is the only player from Utah in the class. She is from Salt Lake City and attended East High. She is a junior, which gives her two years to play in purple and white.
Lastly, Jadyn Matthews. Matthews is a 5’11 forward that averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds, which lead to her being California’s division two player of the year. She was her sections MVP as she poured in 728 points on the year.