UAlbany women’s basketball to rely on depth

Program is replacing its top scorer from last season
UAlbany women's basketball is less than a month from its first game.
UAlbany women's basketball is less than a month from its first game.

ALBANY — Unlike the past couple seasons, no single player is going to carry the University at Albany women’s basketball team’s offense during its 2017-18 campaign.

Last year’s offense revolved around Imani Tate. 

Previous to that, Shereesha Richards was the team’s focal point.

This time around, as UAlbany seeks its seventh consecutive America East championship, second-year head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee has some figuring out to do.

“It is definitely a little bit more by committee,” Bernabei-McNamee said of her team’s offensive approach after Sunday’s practice for the Great Danes.

UAlbany — which opens Nov. 10 at Maryland, a Sweet 16 squad last season — only returns one double-digit scorer. That’s redshirt senior Jessica Fequiere, who averaged 12.5 points per game in 2016-17.

“She’s one of those inside-outside, score-multiple-ways kind of players,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “What I love about her is when she gets a mismatch, she can post really hard — and she’s also our best 3-point shooter.”

The Great Danes, though, are not expecting Fequiere to become a 20-points-a-night player as a senior. This season, UAlbany’s go-to scorer is whomever is having the best night.

“We’re all sharing that role,” Fequiere said.

“I think our ball movement is going to be better this year, because we don’t have to play as much of just a two-man game,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

Tate — last season’s leading scorer at 19.1 points per game  — did miss four games last season. Sophomore Mackenzie Trpcic said the way UAlbany had to share the basketball and get creative to find points during that stretch will help it this season. Added depth will help, too.

“We’re definitely a lot deeper this year,” Trpcic said. “I think that’s probably the strength for us.”

UAlbany’s practice Sunday included a scrimmage of four six-minute quarters. The depth of the Great Danes was on display during that intrasquad session, as the two teams were equally matched. Veterans such as senior Tiana-Jo Carter, Fequiere and redshirt senior Bose Aiyalogbe were impressive, while freshmen such as Kyara Frames, Emma List and Cece Mayo — a Shaker High School product — showed potential.  

The play on the floor at SEFCU Arena, though, was far from flawless. That’s fine for now.

“What impressed me from it was their ability to correct their mistakes through hustle,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “But what I took from it was they’re not quite ready to play yet.”

There is nearly a month for the Great Danes before their opening game — and more than two months until their first conference game. That’s plenty of time for UAlbany to round itself into shape, but Bernabei-McNamee said she expects this season’s squad to rely on its grit throughout the campaign.

“Our big thing is to outhustle our mistakes,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “We’re going to make them, but we can’t hang our head over them.”

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter. 

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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