If College of Charleston women’s basketball coach Natasha Adair is intimidated by the Cougars’ move from the Southern Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association, she certainly isn’t showing it.
College of Charleston
LAST SEASON: 20-14, 11-7 (2nd)
COACH: Natasha Adair, 16-16 in 2nd season and overall
PLAYERS TO WATCH: G Jill Brown, 5-6, sr., (5.1 ppg., 6.4 apg); G Alyssa Frye, 5-8, sr., (12.6 ppg., 3 rpg); G Afreyea Tolbert, 5-10, sr., (9.7 ppg., 5.7 rpg)
Notes: Jill Brown led the Southern Conference in minutes per game last season, averaging 39. She led Cougars with 206 assists last season … Erin Hall, a junior, is a transfer from Wake Forest, and Breannah Davis-Bloom is a transfer from Norfolk State.
8—Kennesaw State, 8 p.m.; 10— at Winthrop, 2 p.m.; 14— at South Carolina, 8 p.m.; 17—at USC Upstate, 3 p.m.; 23—at UNC Greensboro, 2 p.m.; 30—S.C. State, 2 p.m.
2—George Mason, 7 p.m.; 14—at Richmond, 3 p.m.; 18—at Coastal Carolina, 5 p.m.; 21—South Florida, noon; 28—vs. Howard, 2:30 p.m.; 29—Terrapin Classic
2—East Carolina, 7 p.m.; 9—at Drexel, 7 p.m.; 12—William & Mary, 2 p.m.; 17—at Hofstra, noon; 19—at Northeastern, 2 p.m.; 23—Towson, 7 p.m.; 26—Delaware, 2 p.m.; 31—at James Madison, 7 p.m.
2—at William & Mary, 2 p.m.; 7—Drexel, 7 p.m.; 9—Northeastern, 2 p.m.; 13—at Delaware, 7 p.m.; 16—Hofstra, 3:30 p.m.; 20—at UNC Wilmington, 7 p.m.; 27—James Madison, 11:30 a.m.
2—at Towson, 2 p.m.; 5—UNC Wilmington, 7 p.m.; 13-16—CAA tournament, TBA
Adair, in her second season at the helm of the Cougars, embraces the new league and the challenges that come with going to the CAA. The level of play between the SoCon and the CAA will be significant. In the final RPI conference standings a year ago, the CAA was ranked No. 14 out of 31 leagues. The SoCon was ranked No. 22.
“It’s going to be more competitive for sure,” said Adair, who was an assistant coach at Wake Forest and Georgetown. “But why not play against better players and better teams? The CAA has some of the best players and coaches around. For us to be a part of this league is a fantastic opportunity for our program. I’m thrilled. I can’t wait to get going.”
Among the CAA competition are Delaware, which went 32-4 last season, and Drexel, which won the women’s NIT. James Madison, 25-11 last season, was picked to win the league in a preseason poll. The Cougars were picked to finish seventh.
Adair hopes to build on the foundation the Cougars began in her first season.
“Everyone has a year under their belts with our system, so we’re more mature and the players know what to expect,” Adair said. “Are we better than we were last year? Absolutely. We’ve had a year of growth and maturity, so I know we’re going to be better.”
The Cougars, who were 16-16 last year, return a veteran backcourt. Jill Brown, Alyssa Frye and Afreyea Tolbert all return this season and combined for 73 starts a year ago.
Brown averaged just 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds a game, but set a school record with 206 assists. She also was an ironman, averaging nearly 39 minutes per game. Frye, who averaged 12.6 points a game, set a school and SoCon record last year with 95 3-pointers. Tolbert averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds.
“Jill is just solid running the show,” Adair said. “Alyssa is one of the best shooters in the country. With Jill and Alyssa back we’ve got a great one-two punch in the backcourt. Our three impact players are back, and I believe that our depth will be our success this season.”
The Cougars will have to replace Latisha Harris and Catherine Hardy in the post. The two combined to average more than 20 points and 15 rebounds a game. Deidre Ramer, a senior, and Christy Hewatt, a junior, are the most experienced post players back for the Cougars.
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