BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Lady Topper Basketball head coach Michelle Clark-Heard met with the media Monday afternoon after the Lady Toppers began their preseason preparations this weekend, just over a month from the start of the 2016-17 regular season.
WKU returns its top five scorers from the 2015-16 campaign that saw the Lady Toppers go 27-7 (15-3 in C-USA play) and reach the quarterfinals of the WNIT, the program’s deepest postseason run since the 2006-07 season. Redshirt senior Kendall Noble became just the fourth player in C-USA history to sweep both the Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards, while junior Tashia Brown was named First Team All-C-USA. Ivy Brown, Dee Givens, Kayla Smith, Micah Jones, Ima Akpan and Sidnee Bopp also return for the Lady Toppers.
“We’re just looking forward to it, we’ve got a great group. I feel like we have a lot of veterans that are returning, and a lot of new faces too. I’m just really excited, the effort was great yesterday. You know it was the first day of practice, with veterans which is nice. The good thing about it is, they kind of know the things, some of the same drills we do a lot for repetition, they already still know. The greatest thing is the rule that we can have team practice right before we go into the season for practice – it has helped us. It was a good day yesterday.”
Among the newcomers are a trio of Kentucky freshmen in Whitney Creech, Malaka Frank and Sarah Price. Creech finished her high school career as the top-scoring player in Kentucky high school history, male or female, with 5,527 points, and all three were selected to the 2016 Kentucky All-Star Team, the first time since 2012 that WKU has had three committed players compete in the game in the same year.
Also joining the Lady Toppers for the 2016-17 season are Kentucky transfers Jaycee Coe, who sat out last season due to transfer regulations, and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. Junior college product Naomi Mayes joins after playing one season at Joliet Junior College and will have three years of eligibility remaining, and Egyptian national Raneem Elgedawy will round out the 15-player roster.
“Kyvin Goodin-Rogers will be eligible to play in the second semester and Jaycee came in last year and had a whole year with us. Jaycee was able to do a whole for us last season, specifically in practice and got the system under her belt, so I think the fans will be really excited to see both of them. I’ve coached a lot of kids who can shoot the ball and Jaycee can really, really shoot it,” Clark-Heard said.
WKU kicks off its season on Friday, Oct. 14, with the annual Hilltopper Hysteria event inside E.A. Diddle Arena. The festivities are set to begin follow the volleyball match at 6 p.m. and will include scrimmages, a shooting stars challenge and performances by the WKU Spirit Squad.
The Lady Toppers are set to challenge themselves with a strong non-conference schedule, including dates at home against Indiana (Nov. 19) and on the road at Louisville (Dec. 11). WKU will also compete in the 2016 Gulf Coast Showcase
Season tickets for WKU Lady Topper Basketball begin at just $40 per person and are now on sale through the WKU Ticket Office. Fans can also take advantage of the “Big Red Family Plan,” which includes four reserved seats in the 200-level of Diddle Arena for only $25 each when purchased in groups of four or more. Call 1-800-5-BIG-RED or visit WKUSports.com to lock in tickets today.
For more information on WKU Lady Topper Basketball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the team via social media @LadyTopperHoops on Twitter and Instagram and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUWomensBasketball.