Story by Mark McFarland, Staff writer
A tough non-conference schedule, including Alabama A&M and Florida State, sets up a challenging beginning for the women’s basketball.
The Racers plan on playing a tough schedule against some very high RPI conferences, which includes the number seven team in the country, Florida State, according to Head Coach Rob Cross.
“Our early season schedule is tough,” Cross said. “So we will be tested before we get into conference.”
Murray State is returning eight players for the new season including the reigning OVC freshman of the year Ke’Shunan James, sophomore guard from Jackson, Tennessee, who is looking to come away with the OVC player of the year.
James scored 447 points in her freshman year, while averaging 15.4 points a game. She also came away with 189 rebounds, while averaging a 6.5 rebounds per game. James plays at either the guard or forward position and looks to be a huge impact for the team in conference and non-conference play.
“The team gets along really well with each other,” Cross said. “Last year we had some internal struggles going on for the entire year, where we were playing for ourselves rather than for the team, but this team has been the opposite so far.”
The internal issues may be fixed the team has an overall record of 8-21 and only 3-13 in OVC from the 2014-15 season to bounce back from. With the leadership coming from seven juniors and seniors this year the team looks to make some improvements on the court and in their leaders according to Cross.
Though the record did not show much for the Racers last year, they led the OVC in points per game with 73.6. The team was also third in the OVC in assists with 3.9 per game and posed three games where the Racers hit three digits.
Murray State is returning eight players to the roster this season while adding seven new players including Bria Bethea a sophomore guard and forward, Abria Gulledge a freshman forward, Krystal James a junior guard, Michaela Manley a freshman guard, Daniella Pisano a junior guard and Taylor Reese a freshman forward.
Cross is looking for the older players who have been around to take the new players and the freshmen under their wing. He expects the chemistry the girls have shown thus far to continue throughout the season.
The work happened early as Coach Cross said that all of the girls were able to make it to both summer school sessions this past summer and put the extra work in. He believes that this kind of work ethic will help the team overcome adversity.