The D'Youville University Saints still bask in the glow of their Division I USCAA women's national championship, having torched Saint Mary of the Woods College with a fourth-quarter 18-0 run en route to a 63-56 win.
Looking ahead to the 2022-23 season, here are eight teams either looking to build on successful seasons or setting up for one.
Bryant & Stratton Buffalo
The Bobcats fell to the Saints in the national semifinals a year ago but their returning roster sets them up to be title contenders over the next few years.
Taking charge is the young star Kat Kanhoye. In only her second year, Kanhoye scored 18.4 points per game and added 4.3 assists. She also averaged 6.2 rebounds.
However, Kanhoye is not the only key player returning for the Bobcats. Rising seniors Nia Carver and Oumy Gueye were also dominant on the court. The veterans put up 10.9 and 10.6 points and 9.1 and 7.6 rebounds per game, respectively.
Bryant & Stratton Rochester
They had an impressive 2021-2 season, finishing at 9-3 and ended the season with a five-game winning streak.
Sophomore guard Kathryn Kanhoye was a large part of the team's success, averaging 14.8 points per game while shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc. This helped the Bobcats score at will, averaging 75 points per game on 42 percent shooting.
They managed the other end of the floor as well, forcing ten turnovers for opposing teams and holding them to 65 points per game. Their defensive pressure had opponents shooting only 33 percent from the floor.
Bryant & Stratton Syracuse
Since the 2019-20 season, the Bobcats have had two trips to the USCAA National Tournament.
The team's dynamic duo of Jehiah Cook and Traynise Delaney are the focal point of the Bobcats' offense. Cook led the team — and the league — with 21 points per game.
They are backed by first-year players Eunice Sillong and Deounce Reed-Fuller. Both were defensive stars; Sillong climbed to the top of the league in rebounds per game at 14.
The women's basketball team at Carlow University struggled in the 2021-22 season, as they finished at 7-23.
The Celtics, however, have a young talented core of hoopers. Notably, the four-time varsity letter-winner Sydney Carr made her mark early.
She earned an USCAA All-American honorable mention in her first year as a Celtic. Carr was the fourth-leading scorer throughout the season at 6.8 points per game.
According to Carr, "our seniors set us up really well." She continued with how she is excited to be "able to show off what we did in the offseason and put it all together with watching film and hard practices."
Although the Celtics are losing a few veterans, the team's chemistry remains. Carr and junior Sarah Merlina have known each other since fifth grade and both know junior Elena Butler through AAU hoops.
The 2021-22 reigning champions have a blaze of momentum coming into the 2022-23 season. A stellar young core and a new coach set the stage for an encore. Coach Ali Bouman is joining the Saints with plenty of experience. Bouman spent two seasons at Gannon University with a record of 36-7.
With depth up and down the roster, the Saints have adopted the motto "strong alone, unstoppable together." In the 2021-22 season, 11 players racked up USCAA accolades. Most notably, sophomore guard Sara Pieffer had a breakout year. Pieffer, who averages 19.8 points per game, broke the East Coast Conference single-game record for three-pointers with 11.
Freshman Anna Jankovic is another player who stepped up early in her collegiate career. She nearly averaged a double-double through her first year, 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.
"We have leaders emerging," Bouman said. "Each player has a driving force; attacking each early morning practice, weights, and conditioning session. We are focused on nothing else other than improving individually and collectively every chance available.”
Bouman, whose team graduated zero players, concluded: "I could not be prouder of them for the way the preseason has gone and laid the framework for the season."
Mid-Atlantic Christian University
The Mustangs had arguably their best season on record as they tied the high mark for wins in a single season and qualified for their first USCAA Nationals appearance with a record of 11-13.
A notable addition is Carly James. The 2022 graduate from Terra Ceia Christian high school in Pantego, North Carolina saw much success in her high school years.
A senior captain, James finished her high school basketball career with three consecutive seasons being named to the TIC All-Conference team and the TIC All-Tournament team as a senior. In her final season, she averaged 17.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game and finished her career with 1,266 points.
The Mustangs also welcome Saniyah Brown for the 2022-23 season. Brown, captain of her high school team, earned an All-Tournament team award at the Columbia Holiday Tournament.
The Mustangs are also returning a few key players, two of which are rising seniors Airyannah Moitt and Kayla Kent. Both had impressive seasons, scoring 6.8 and 10.8 points per game respectively. In addition, both pulled down nearly six rebounds per game. Moitt also totaled 41 steals through the season – the second most on the team.
Mississippi University for Women
The Owls have not seen a winning record since its 2018-2019 season where they went 21-6. Since then, they have had a cumulative record of 10-34.
However, last season sophomore MG Chamberlain played at an elite level after not seeing the court for three years due to knee injuries. She averaged 13.2 points and 5 rebounds per game — and her 87.5 free throw percentage was the best on the team. Chamberlain, who made the USCAA All-American second team, averaged 32.7 minutes per game despite continued knee pain.
Head coach of the Owls Drew Johnson said: “I get emotional when talking about Chamberlain’s story. … So many injuries. So many setbacks. So much pain, both physically and emotionally. The doctors didn't believe in her knees; they told her she should never play again after the last knee injury.”
The coach added: “When she came in for her visit, I saw that faith, as well as the unwillingness to give up on herself. Throughout the season, I can honestly say she got better every single day and it wasn't by accident. She lives in that gym, and when she isn't in there, she's in the training room taking care of her body.”
Freshman Maddie Guerin was also a standout for the Owls with 8.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.
The Apprentice School
The Builders finished last with a record of 4-16. However, the team has rebuilt its front office coming into the 2022-23 season.
Coach Courtney Collins will join the Builders, bringing a record of success. She spent last year as an assistant at CNU, helping guide the Captains to a 26-1 record, with the lone loss coming in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Collins played for Apprentice from 2010 through 2014. “After playing here for four years, it is an honor and a blessing to come back to The Apprentice School as the head coach of the women's basketball program," she said.
"I know the culture and what it takes," Collins added. She continued, "It is easy to bond with my team knowing I have an idea of everything that goes on both on and off the court."
This year the Builders are expecting a breakout year. According to Collins: ”We are a unique team. Nobody knows that we spend eight hours a day at work. Whether in the classroom reviewing film, in the gym, or on the court: our strength and toughness will separate us this season."
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