It’s time…the offseason is over. We’ve got games tipping off in less than 30 days and I can’t wait! No more posting once every other week for me, haha. At least not until April. After jumping into this blog/newsletter thing literally as the first games of the year tipped off last season, I feel both more prepared and more confident now as we head into this season. My knowledge base increased tremendously with the help of so many fans, supporters, and coaches, last season, and I truly appreciate each and every one of you for following along as I figured out how all of this worked along the way.
I am extremely excited for what this season is going to bring. I’ll be working on a very fun, insightful D3 basketball project over the course of the next couple years that I’ll write about a bit more as the season draws closer. Long story short, I’ll get to see plenty of games in lots of new places, and that has me pumped, especially as I start to look at the next few months!
But anyway, that’s probably enough of an intro. I don’t plan on changing too much with the setup of this newsletter, especially as we get into the season. I’ll still have a breakdown of my Top 25 each week on Mondays, and thoughts each morning on the previous day’s games/results. Often, I’ll change the format of those daily posts, just to keep it interesting, but all of the same content will still be there. I do my best to highlight all 10 regions and the best individual and team performances on a daily basis, but if I miss anything (because I know I will), please don’t hesitate to reach out with a comment or note. It always helps when someone draws my attention to a 30+ point game from a player or a record-setting performance from a team’s defense. Because let’s face it…there are 428 D-III women’s basketball teams…that’s a lot to follow!
As the season nears, more and more teams have released their rosters, which often gives very helpful clarification on a program’s returning group, any previously unknown transfers, and of course, which players decided to use their Covid year to return for a fifth season.
On that note, Hardin-Simmons was not included in my Early Preseason Top 30. There were too many question marks as to their stellar senior class from last season, and how many, if any, would be back. If you remember, HSU went 24-4 in 2022-23, with three of those losses coming to Trinity (TX) and finished the ASC schedule with a flawless 18-0 mark.
I came across HSU’s new roster a few days ago, and it confirmed what a few sources had previously told me. Point guard Paris Kiser, forward Parris Parmer, and guard Samantha Tatum are all back as graduate students. All three were 500-600 minute players for HSU last season, and were three of the Cowgirls’ top four leading scorers. That is incredible valuable. HSU just vaulted into my Top 25, now that these returners are confirmed. Kiki Gonzales and Kylie Ellsworth will both be back as well after seeing significant playing time (mostly off the bench) last season, and the depth on this roster will be a strength for HSU. I’ll get a chance to see them play in person here in about 22 days when they battle Baylor in an exhibition in Waco.
Let’s continue with the 5th-year discussion a little bit. As if we needed one more thing to make the WIAC interesting, Macy Nilsen is back on the roster for UW-River Falls. She was a First Team All-WIAC honoree last year and averaged 14.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. The Edna, Minn. native put the team on her back at multiple points last season, and with 71% of last year’s squad back, UWRF will be a tough out for any team in the WIAC. Who knows what will happen in that league from week to week. Very excited to see that conference title race unfold.
Another interesting storyline to follow will be that of Sofia Rosa, who set the Tufts program record for field goal percentage in 2019-20. After playing four years at Tufts, she joined the MIT coaching staff as an assistant last season. But her name has since resurfaced on Smith’s roster as a player! It appears that Rosa is using her 5th year and will add some serious depth in the post to a team that loses WBCA Player of the Year Morgan Morrison, who is playing her 5th year at NYU. Rosa is a 6-foot-2 center who scores well around the rim, and should be a tough matchup for any NEWMAC opponent.
Out on the West Coast, keep an eye on Amanda Inserra to be in for a big year. UC-Santa Cruz isn’t the NCAA Tournament contender they were last year (from a projections standpoint) but Inserra’s return should give the Banana Slugs a bit of a boost. She averaged 12.6 points and 5.1 boards per game last season, and on an 11-player roster, I expect she’ll be on the floor for 30+ minutes per game again. UCSC has some experience on its roster, but last year’s group was unbelievably talented. Losing a Kaylee Murphy, Ashley Kowack, or Tess Oakley-Stilson is tough. Losing all three at the same time to graduation is really difficult.
I will say, UCSC did get a bunch of D3 games, which is good to see considering how tough of a scheduling battle they have. Matchups against Whitworth, Whitman, Pomona-Pitzer, Pacific, Hamilton, NYU, UW-Platteville, and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps highlight the schedule. Monica Armstrong will be in her first year as UCSC’s head coach this season. Definitely wish her the best of luck in that new role!
Speaking of the West Coast, the Northwest Conference (NWC) might be one of the more underrated leagues in the country heading into this season. The talent and depth on some of these rosters is impressive, and I believe there are at least three legitimate NWC title contenders. Puget Sound brings back standouts in Kennedy Brown, Sophie Nilsson, and Katie Minnehan who were all very fun to watch throughout last season. They finished 21-5 and seem ready to take a step forward, especially with a non-conference schedule that includes games with UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire, Illinois Wesleyan, Trinity (TX) and possibly John Carroll. Pacific has 99% of its roster back and they had Puget Sound’s number last season. Twice they beat the Loggers in the span of about two weeks, and missed an NCAA Tournament berth by a six-point margin in the NWC title game against Whitman. Whitman is the third contender, and they too, have a bunch of returning talent. With forwards Korin Baker and Lindsay Drango leading the way, Whitman is poised for another strong year. Carly Martin is the top returning guard, and while I think the strength of this team is at the forward/wing position, Whitman should be plenty good in the backcourt too.
As I close this out, I see that Bob Quillman has published his intervew with Transylvania head coach Juli Fulks on his podcast, the Q-Cast. It’s definitely worth a listen. Coach Fulks always has phenomenal insight, and Bob does a nice job with asking unique and insightful questions. Listen here:
I’ll end here, but updates will be coming much more frequently, especially once we get into preseason exhibitions here in about two weeks. Oct. 22 is the earliest date I have written down for D3 vs. D1 exhibitions/scrimmages as NJCU plays at Wagner. Looking forward to this season as tip off approaches! Have a great weekend.