Rams women’s team in need of fresh blood
If Shepherd’s corps of freshmen women’s basketball players don’t play vital roles this season then the winter won’t hold any championships, won’t see much smoke or fire kindled in the Mountain East Conference and could provide a third straight losing season.
After going 7-22 in the 2015-16, the Rams moved forward to 15-17 last season, but an 11-11 conference record kept them in the middle of the pack.
In a vote of the league’s coaches several weeks ago, Shepherd was predicted to finish in seventh place in the 12-school conference this season.
There are five players returning from last year that give the Rams a workable nucleus. But five players can’t jeopardize the chances of the league’s best teams – Glenville and Wheeling-Jesuit.
With senior guard Morgan Arden, senior front court players Kayla Tibbs and Tiffany McKinney, junior forward/guard Kari Lankford and sophomore guard Lauren Reed, Shepherd has a group of decent scorers, mostly adequate rebounders and experienced players.
But those five players need immediate help from an incoming group of freshmen.
Glenville uses 15 players and Wheeling-Jesuit goes with a useful group of 10 players to win 75-percent of its games.
How can Shepherd improve over last year’s record and even finish in the top five teams in the conference?
Holding the keys to those questions are the four freshmen of note.
TaRaessha Henderson is a 5-foot-11 forward from North Dinwiddie, Va. Marley McLaughlin is a 5-foot-8 guard/forward from Haymarket, Va. Lexi Dean is a 6-foot-2 front court performer from East Rockingham, Va. and Sydney Clayton is a 5-foot-11 front court player from St. John’s High in Frederick, Md.
None of the freshmen is a likely candidate for all-conference honors or even Freshman of the Year.
But at least two of them have to make important contributions or the Rams won’t be making any significant strides forward.
Arden scored 13 points a game and Tibbs averaged 9.3 points.
Conference teams likely to make upward moves are West Virginia State and Fairmont.
The Rams play 22 conference games. The first of the home games comes on Nov. 14 against Goldey-Beacom at 6 p.m.
Many conference teams will be quicker than the Rams. Most will shoot a higher percentage from the floor and the free throw line. Shepherd has to improve on its troublesome turnover problems to accomplish what it wants to see by the season’s completion.
Can Arden, Tibbs and the other returnees play well enough until the freshmen get used to college basketball’s quick-paced ways? The answer should be revealed by late December – or even sooner.