The last we heard of the UL women’s basketball program, coach Garry Brodhead and his team was trying to get over the disappointment of their season being halted by the coronavirus two days before the Sun Belt Conference tournament semifinals at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.
More than missing out on that experience and losing senior post player Kendall Bess, quite a bit has changed for the program’s prospects for the 2020-21 season.
For starters, Andrea Cournoyer and Jazmyn Womack both entered the transfer portal. Cournoyer has since signed with Samford, while Womack’s future remains undetermined.
According to Brodhead, the issues revolved around playing time, although on two very different levels.
Womack only got into eight games this season and only played more than three minutes once. She scored two points all season.
Cournoyer, on the other hand, averaged 6.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.5 steals during her sophomore campaign, which included 18 starts in 31 games. She averaged 21.2 minutes a game.
Her minutes did decline late in the season. After never playing fewer than 13 minutes over the first 23 games, Cournoyer played fewer than 13 minutes in five of UL’s final seven games.
“We’re going to miss her shooting,” Brodhead said of Cournoyer. “She didn’t really have a good shooting year, but she’s confident in her shot and I think she’s a good shooter. Also, she practiced hard and she’s just an all-around good kid that you want in your program.”
The defensive side was also an issue for both, according to Brodhead.
“The style of play that they have kind of fits her, too,” Brodhead said of her move to Samford. “Defense was part of it, too. She’s pretty athletic and I think she was getting better at it, but she was always concerned about getting better at it.”
In addition to signing Lafayette Christian’s Tamera Johnson early and Alcorn State transfer Breyelle Porter — also from LCA — Brodhead added Weatherford Junior College’s 5-foot-9 guard Destiny McAfee and Ouachita High’s 6-1 center Lafaedria Green to the fold.
“I wouldn’t say she’s like Andrea,” Brodhead said of McAfee, who averaged 16 points a game last season and is actually a Lafayette native. “She’s more of something that we don’t have. She’s a big guard. She’s about 5-9, 5-10 and she can rebound. Our outside shooting may not be quite what Andrea’s was, but she’s a scorer. She brings more size to us and her ability to guard is going to be big for us, because she’s so athletic.”
Green fits into the program’s biggest offseason emphasis of adding more rebounding and defense, averaging 11.5 points and 10.6 rebounds for Class 5A state runner-up Ouachita this past season.
“We’ll be bigger across the board,” Brodhead said. “That’s what we were looking for because of the rebounding. We needed some help on the rebounding side and the defensive side. I think we’ll be stronger.
“We just felt like we were a little bit small at the guard positions, so that kind of hurt is on the defensive side and on the boards. When you give up that size, you better be able to shoot it and I didn’t find that we shot it as good as we could have.”
So while Brodhead is concerned about replacing the leadership Bess provided, there’s every reason to count on UL being better next season after going 19-12 this past season.
“I feel confident that we’ll have a really solid team next year,” he said. “I’m hoping we can get back in June and get some work in over the summer.”
One thing that will be new for Brodhead’s bunch is it might suddenly be the most seasoned group in the Sun Belt women's race in the fall.
“Out of all of the teams in the conference, we’re probably the oldest team now,” he explained. “We’ll have six seniors. This is a year where if you can’t come back, you’ll want to be a little more mature. They know what the system is, especially compared to if you were bringing him a bunch of freshmen.”