Charlotte 49ers Countdown to Madness: Questions surrounding women’s basketball

photo courtesy Kevin Harbin

Can the Charlotte women’s basketball team finally make it back to the NCAA Tournament?  (photo courtesy Kevin Harbin)

On Thursday, we profiled the Charlotte 49ers men’s basketball team and took a look at some questions surrounding them this season.  What about the women?  They’ve got some questions of their own that need answering as well.  Let’s take a look as part of our “Countdown to Madness” series.

What to do without Slim and Jenn? Amanda Dowe and Jenn Hailey were two of the main reasons the Niners competed near the top of the A-10 last season. With their graduation, the Niners lose 26.5 points and 23.1 rebounds a game. That kind of production will be hard to completely replace. Who will be able to take the reins and step up offensively and on the boards this season?

How will the return of Gabby Tyler affect this team? The Niners will receive a big boost with the return of Tyler, a redshirt last season after suffering a concussion. Tyler was an A-10 All-Rookie selection after the 2010-11 season and averaged 8.0 points/5.4 boards an outing in 2011-12. She’ll be taking on a bigger role this season so time will tell if she can live up to the expectations placed on her when she joined the team.

What about three-point shooting? Look no further than Hillary Sigmon, the go-to player in long distance shots (36.8% in 2012-13). But Charlotte hasn’t had a consistent perimeter threat outside of the junior from Hickory, NC. No other Niner made more than 11 threes; three players combined for just 28 makes from beyond the arc. Cara Consuegra’s team has benefited from a strong interior presence over the past few years, but another consistent three-point threat would add an important component to the offense.

What impact will the newcomers make? Five freshman will enter the fray this season in what has turned out to be an outstanding recruiting class. Tanisha Brown was regarded as one of the top players in South Carolina by some and was a previous UNC Chapel Hill commit. Meme Garner departed with all-North Carolina accolades. Even Ciara Gregory (Parade All-American, Pennsylvania player of the year), Kenya Olley (McDonald’s All American Game nominee) and Danielle Webster (an all-Virginia pick and 2,000 point scorer in high school) have received high marks for their play before college. If they can adjust to the new system and gel with the current players, they’ll be able to contribute immediately.

There you have it. It’s sure to be an interesting season for the women as they look to resolve some of those questions and more, and if they’re able to do so, a Conference USA title and a long-awaited trip to the NCAA Tournament will be the payoff.

Topics: Charlotte 49ers, Charlotte 49ers Women's Basketball, Countdown To Madness, Women's Basketball

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