SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)- The USF women’s basketball team returns thirteen players and five starters from last year’s team that won 23 games.
“We have a ton of kids back, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re going to be good. It’s what those kids do with some of the experience that those kids have developed over their three or four years,” USF women’s basketball coach Travis Traphagen said.
“It’s super nice right now to have a senior led team and to transfer that into games, like I said, we’re a fast paced team and so we know what we want to do and we know what we want to do for our goals as well,” USF senior guard Kaely Hummel said.
The Cougars return a lot of talent from last year’s squad including senior guard and NSIC preseason player of the year, Kaely Hummel.
“She’s going to get everybody’s best defensive effort, but the fun part is she is to the point of understanding the role of that. Playing through some scrimmages and she’s getting other people involved and when you have a lot of other kids that can score and in the majority of the plays I’m going to run, guess what, for anybody who’s listening, it’s going to Hummel, when she’s that good of player,” Traphagen said.
This year’s Cougar team will be similar to past teams as USF will look to use their speed and defense as their strength.
“That’s what’s going to help us win games, is if we get it done on defensive side, then we can push our pace and go back on the offensive side, where we are good as well, too,” Hummel said.
“We are way faster than most of the teams in this league, not only offensively, but defensively, I think picking up in a full court press is going to take people for a surprise and not a lot of teams can do that, but I think with our depth, our pace is going to change the game against a lot of teams,” USF senior forward Jacey Huinker said.
Like most seasons, the Northern Sun Conference will feature some of the best basketball in the country, including MSU-Moorhead who is ranked 18th in the latest WBCA national coaches rankings.
“I just see good coaches, good players and just because you’re ranked high, doesn’t mean that’s where you’re going to finish. I really look at probably the top six, top seven in our league and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference,” Traphagen said.
The Cougars return thirteen players which is the largest returning class since the 2015-2016 season where USF reached the NCAA tournament, which means that this year’s team has some high expectations.
“I think it’s good to shoot our shots high and I really do think we can make the tournament. Obviously, that’s the end goal, but first we need to get through these early preseason games and then make our way to conference and hopefully, eventually get there, because I’ve been there once and I know my teammates would love getting to go there,” Huinker said.
“This is probably the most talented I’ve had since the 2015-2016 season and our kids have high goals and we’re playing at a high level so you’re going to get a lot of people’s best shots when you’re picked high in the south, or overall, but we just need to take it day by day,” Traphagen said.
The Cougars first game of the season will be the USF Classic in Sioux Falls. USF will host William Jewell on Friday, November 15 at 2:00.