Women’s Basketball Preview

Five things you need to know about each team coming into the season.

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Women’s Basketball Preview

Women's basketball huddles up before their 67-65 loss to Southern Miss on Feb. 14 of last season. Mohammed F. Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Women's basketball huddles up before their 67-65 loss to Southern Miss on Feb. 14 of last season. Mohammed F. Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Women's basketball huddles up before their 67-65 loss to Southern Miss on Feb. 14 of last season. Mohammed F. Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Women's basketball huddles up before their 67-65 loss to Southern Miss on Feb. 14 of last season. Mohammed F. Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Ryan Lynch, Sports Editor

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Head coach Kellie Lewis-Jay took the youngest team in the NCAA to their second Conference USA tournament appearance, finishing the year with a 13-17 record and a first round loss.

A year older with a more experienced core, the Owls have the potential to take another step forward in the conference.

Replacing Shaneese8-infograph1_web

Sophomore guard Shaneese Bailey transferred to Miami at the end of last year, taking her talents to a bigger program.

There’s no disputing Bailey’s importance to the team last year. In 29 games, she led the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game, along with 5.3 rebounds per game (second on the team). On defense, she led her teammates in steals with 34.

Without Bailey, guards Morgan Robinson and Ali Gorell will see more shot attempts, but the Owls will need to find a third player to contribute on offense.

Sophomore Malia Kency and junior Kat Wright each could be a possible fit, but it remains to be seen if the team’s style will change without Bailey on the court.

Older, Wiser Owls

The team had eight freshmen playing last season. With five of those eight returning for their sophomore season, the team will look more comfortable than it was in the past year.

Forwards Sasha Cedeno and Melinda Myers are the biggest providers of defense and scoring in the paint. The duo combined for 27 total blocks and 201 rebounds in their first season.

Malia Kency and Danneal Ford will both see more time in one of the three guard spots this year. Kency provided 7.5 points and 1.8 assists per game in her first year.

Ford had 10 steals coming off the bench and averaged 1.8 PPG. Raven Doyle averaged 1.7 points in limited time from the bench after coming back from a medical redshirt in her freshman season.

New Year, New coaches

A new season means some changes to the coaching staff for Lewis-Jay. Her most noteworthy change was bringing in Richard Henderson to replace Harry Elifson in July. Henderson was previously on the Oklahoma State staff since the 2007-2008 season as an assistant.

The team also moved on without Fitzroy Anthony, who was one of Lewis-Jay’s first hires in 2012 along with Elifson. Anthony is now on the staff of the Miami Hurricanes, where Bailey transferred to in 2014.

Sophomore forward Sasha Cedeno averaged 2.4 rebounds per game last season. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Sophomore forward Sasha Cedeno averaged 2.4 rebounds per game last season. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Streaking Away

FAU was very streaky last year, with multiple winning and losing streaks. A three-game losing streak ended the Owls’ season, with the final loss coming in the C-USA tournament opening round versus Louisiana Tech 84-74.

It may be the mark of a new team, but with experience on their side, long slides are projected to be a thing of the past.

Size Matters

Head coach Lewis-Jay ran a three-guard system since she took the job in the 2012-2013 season. Relying on speed, the team played at an up tempo pace, forcing 6.7 steals per game and creating offensive opportunities on the fastbreak.

The downside to their style proved to be playing against bigger teams, as the Owls were unable to control the paint when they did not hold the size advantage. Opponents out rebounded the Owls by an average of 7.6 boards per game.

Bailey led the team in rebounds as a guard. In her absence, the forwards will become more important than ever. The addition of 6-foot-2 Ra’Kyra Gabriel will help, but Cedeno, Myers and Doyle will need to take back the inside in their sophomore seasons.