Women’s basketball returns same team with new challenges


Photo by Eric Reynolds

Women’s basketball team before their first official practice of the season on Sept. 27. The team had many players return, including USI graduate Emma Dehart as an assistant coach.

Eric Reynolds and Quinton Watt

The women’s basketball team will start Division I play with an experienced roster returning from a successful campaign a year ago.

The team lost guards Ashley Hunter and Emma Dehart from the 23-6 team from last year. .

According to senior guard Addy Blackwell, the team returning with a roster with only minimal changes has helped the offseason process. 

“It’s definitely beneficial,” Blackwell said. “Players that are experienced playing at this level really helps.”

However, with this new roster, head coach Rick Stein said he cannot come in and expect his team to pick up right where it left off. 

“You know, every team is different and every year is different obviously,” Stein said. “When you return 14 players and think, ‘Oh, it’s just got to keep on going and nothings gonna change,’ but it does. You can’t just think one year is going to roll on to the next because they are two totally different teams.”

Dehart returned this season as an assistant coach to the team. She started her new position in August.

The dynamic of the team has stayed the same with her return.

“This adjustment has been pretty easy, and I think that’s coming from both sides,” Dehart said. “It’s coming from me and coming from the players. I think we already had that relationship.”

Still, there are some new faces. Murray State University transfer Takiya Howard, sophomore guard, will help provide the Eagles’ backcourt with some depth. 

“With USI, they make it feel like home,” Howard said. “It’s been a fun ride. I’ve been enjoying it a lot.”

The team is about to begin its first DI season after the Board of Trustees voted to transition from NCAA Division II to Division I Feb. 7. 

“We know it’s going to be a challenge, but then again in the GLVC it was a challenge every year,” Dehart said. “Now that we’re going Division I, it just kind of puts the title on us, but I don’t think it adds any more pressure.”

With no change in pressure to the new season, the team looks at a different angle to do well in DI.

“I wouldn’t say it’s pressure,” Blackwell said. “I would say it’s motivation. You want to represent your university well.”

The Screaming Eagles will have an open play Nov. 7 against Oakland City University at Screaming Eagles Arena.

The rest of the women’s basketball schedule can be found here.