Do the math. UNO women’s basketball coach Keeshawn Carter Davenport has it all figured out concerning the Privateers’ prospects for a winning season in 2015-16.
“If we take care of our home conference schedule, you’re looking at nine wins,” she said. “And then you add in our two non-Division I games (LSU-Alexandria and Trinity Baptist) and that’s 11. You add in our other two home games (Jackson State, UNC-Greensboro), you’re talking about 13.
“If we go on and take some of those wins on the road, you’re dog-gone right I think we can have a winning season. But we’ve got to take care of home.”
UNO tips off the first of 27 games at TCU on Sunday.
The Privateers, however, have not had a winning season since 2001, when Davenport was a senior player with the Privateers. That team went 15-14. There have been lean times since, such as winless seasons in 2012 and 2014, their first year in the Southland Conference.
Last season’s team went 8-19, including 6-12 in the conference. Five of the wins came in the last six games, including the season finale at Northwestern State, which went on to win the conference tournament.
“That has lit a fire under them for this season,” the coach said.
That, and UNO not getting the last spot in the conference tournament because of a tie-breaker.
This season, the Privateers were picked to finish 11th in the Southland. Lamar and Northwestern State are the favorites.
However, Davenport may have reason to be optimistic. UNO returns all of its starters, and the four newcomers include two who redshirted as well as freshmen Danielle Wright and 6-1 Shania Woods. Wright may eventually start at point guard, and Woods is expected to be part of a deep post position.
“I think we will be better, No. 1, because of the depth area, and because we have more experience,” Davenport said. “And this season, some of our players will play their more natural positions. Last year, they played different positions because of injuries.”
That may pay the biggest dividend for Danielle Davis. The team’s third-leading scorer (7.0 ppg), she played point guard last season. She will start there against TCU because of her experience, Davenport said. However, Danielle Wright and Mariah Wright, a redshirt freshman, are being groomed for the position. Davis’ scoring is expected to increase once she moves to shooting guard.
That will be a big help to guard Randi Brown, who led the team in scoring (12.7) on her way to being selected Southland Freshman of the Year. Brown emerged as UNO’s top player, and teammates found their roles, keying the winning stretch at the end.
Davenport said UNO also will be strong up front. Yasmin Taylor, a 5-foot-11 senior, led the team in rebouding (6.9 per game), and 6 foot sophomore Halie Matthews (4.9 rebounds, 8.4 points) and 6-foot junior Raven Colmen (5.2 rebounds) return.
“Yasmin and Halie give us a big presence on the inside, and both bring that rebounding presence that we need, along with Raven,” Davenport said. “We were a good offensive rebounding team, but we also gave up offensive rebounds. We have to get better in that area.”
UNO’s full-court pressing defense will be kicked up a notch because the Privateers are in much better condition compared to last season.
“Last season, we’d get turnovers, but we’d have empty possessions on the offensive end,” she said. “We’ve been working on offense much more, and I think Danielle Wright will enable us to press more from the beginning.
“At the end of last season, they believed in the system, themselves and each other. They had a refuse to lose attitude. We have to focus and play both halves of games.”