Women’s Basketball Season Preview
Following a disappointing 2015-16 campaign that ended with a loss in the CAA tournament semifinals, the Blue Hens women’s basketball team will look to begin their journey back to the top of the CAA when the 2016-17 season tips off on Nov. 13 with a home game against George Mason.
The Hens return four starters and three reserves, making them one of the most experienced teams in the conference. Head Coach Tina Martin also returns for her 21st season at the helm –– she is the winningest coach in program history, entering this season with an impressive career record of 392-224 for a .636 winning-percentage. In addition, Martin has guided the Hens to six CAA Championship games and a berth in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet Sixteen.
The Hens have not met the lofty expectations they set for themselves in the past two seasons, posting a combined 31-32 record over that span. However, this year’s crop of players looks poised to take the program to the next level.
Senior guard Erika Brown, a preseason All-CAA selection and team co-captain, figures to be the main cog in the Blue Hens offense. Brown was second on the team in points per game last season at 11.4 while also leading the Hens in assists. Senior forward and fellow co-captain Hannah Jardine will serve as a floor-spacer for Brown and the rest of the Hen’s offense. Jardine ranks second in program history with a .393 career 3-point field goal percentage and eighth in career 3-pointers made with 96.
Sophomore forward Nicole Enabosi will try to continue the momentum of her strong freshman season, which ended with a selection to the CAA All-Rookie Team. Enabosi likely will anchor the Blue Hen’s interior defense this season, after averaging 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Hens last season. Junior forward Makeda Nicholas will also make an impact in the paint this season. Nicholas led the Hens in blocked shots a season ago and was right behind Enabosi in rebounding, hauling in 6 rebounds per game.
The Hens are set to welcome five new players to their roster this year, comprised of four freshmen and one transfer. Junior guard Alison Lewis, who played high school ball at Delaware’s Sanford School, will have to sit out the season due to NCAA rules after transferring from Providence College. Freshman point guard Abby Gonzales is expected to use her hustle and high basketball IQ to slide into the starting backcourt alongside Brown. Other freshman newcomer Rebecca Lawrence will also look to contribute in her first season, as she is a strong rebounder with excellent size.
The Hens open the season with 11 non-conference games, including matchups with Michigan State and Georgetown. During this stretch, the Hens will also be featured in the CSUN Thanksgiving Basketball Classic at California State University Northridge. The conference schedule begins on Jan. 2 at home against William & Mary. After the conference schedule, the Hens will aim to win their first CAA Tournament title in four years. The tournament will be hosted by rival James Madison.