Tulane women’s basketball team will be playing its first season in the American Athletic Conference with most of last year’s team returning.
With all but two players returning from last year’s squad that finished 20-11, coach Lisa Stockton said expectations will be high during a news conference Tuesday.
“It’s great to have so many players returning. We’ve added some quality players to our team, so our expectations are high,” she said. “If you look at our non-conference schedule, we have added some very, very good teams to the schedule.”
Of the returning players are four seniors who have not played in an NCAA tournament game and that’s their goal.
“That’s their focus, and hopefully that’s what we’re going to look at the end of the year,” Stockton said.
One of those seniors is Tiffany Dale, who led the team in field goals with 132, rebounds with 243 and 49 blocked shots.
“I started off freshman year, I definitely came in very strong. My development, I definitely worked on a lot of things to better my team as far as going right and playing post,” Dale said.
“I transitioned from four to five which has been really good. I’m just coming in strong working on things I need to get better at for the season.”
Stockton said the new league could expand Tulane’s chances of going to the NCAA tournament. While Conference USA had four to five bids when Tulane first joined, she said that was not the case the last seven to eight years.
“When you look at this league with a national champion in UConn and the RPI it will bring, I feel like maybe this is a chance that our non-conference schedule can really help us,” Stockton said. “I think the league will be balanced, but maybe it’s a situation where we can get multiple bids and really expand.”
One of the new Green Wave players is 5-8 freshman guard Kolby Morgan, who played for former Tulane All-American Barbara Farris at John Curtis. Morgan was a four-year letter winner for the Patriots and Stockton said she is already making an impact.
“She has been very, very impressive in practice,” Stockton said. “Kolby has got some speed that we haven’t had in a long time.”
Morgan joins a group of guards that includes sophomore Leslie Vorphal, who started 14 games as a freshman last season and was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. Vorphal led the team in free throw percentage with .765. She was also second in assists with 94 and had 36 3-point baskets.
While there is more tough competition on the schedule than last season, the sophomore said she does not want to overlook anyone.
“Definitely, we want to do good in our conference,” Vorphal said. “It’s going to be an awesome experience with new competition, UConn and all that. We want to compete and we want to get our name out there.”