After a successful 2019-20 campaign, Ladyjacks basketball is back and ready to go following a longer-than-usual offseason.
“When something is taken away from you, regardless of what that reason is, I think you realize how much you miss it,” Ladyacks Head Coach Mark Kellogg said. “It was just extra special thinking back to that first practice, and the energy was crazy good. We were all super excited just to be out there doing what we love to do. The players are not thinking about everything that our world and country is dealing with. We’re just thinking about, for those couple of hours, about the sport that we love and getting better, competing and having fun and growing.”
The Ladyjacks concluded the 2019-20 regular season at 23-6 overall with a 16-4 Southland record. They were set to play in the Southland Tournament in Katy last March as the two seed, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.
“We’ve been on a pretty good little run here with being COVID free and what would feel like a normal year for the last couple of weeks,” said Kellogg. “We’ve had a couple shutdowns and have had a couple issues and some interruptions, but for the most part, it’s business as usual to a certain extent.”
The Ladyjacks, who are the preseason favorite to win the Southland, begin their season at 6 p.m. Wednesday from Tempe, Arizona for a contest with Arizona State. Their home opener is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, December 3 against Jackson State University.
SFA will see the return of eight players from last year’s team. Juniors Stephanie Visscher and Aiyana Johnson represented the Ladyjacks on the Southland’s Preseason First Team while sophomore Zya Nugent made the second team. The senior trio of Marissa Banfield, Aaliyah Johnson and Alyssa Mayfield as well as junior Brianna Mitchell are back as well.
Key newcomers for the Ladyjacks include redshirt sophomore Tasharian Robinson, a UTSA transfer who sat out last season due to transfer rules, freshmen Avery Brittingham, Bri Scott and Rebekah Crane along with two international players Franziska Prinz and Ines Mus.
“We feel really good about the team we’re bringing back,” Kellogg said. “We feel pretty good about where we are.”
In addition to winning the Southland Tournament and an NCAA Tournament berth, other goals for the Ladyjacks include winning all of their home games and notching a win over a power five opponent. In the last three years, SFA has gone 45-2 when playing at William R. Johnson Coliseum.
In the midst of the current pandemic situation, Kellogg stated that they will be ready to adjust to schedule changes and other situations that may occur during the season.
“We just don’t know what it’s going to look like,” he said. “We’re going to have to be ready to adjust.”