The following article was previously published on The Flat Hat’s website during the week of Oct. 23. However, due to an unforeseen technological glitch, it was removed from the website for a period of time and was re-uploaded today, Nov. 8.
William and Mary women’s basketball is back.
After a strong 2022-23 season, women’s basketball is returning to Kaplan Arena with the same goal it had last year — take the Coastal Athletic Association by storm.
Despite losing to Towson in the CAA semifinals last March, the 2022-23 season was more than an impressive campaign for the Green and Gold. In head coach Erin Dickerson Davis’ first season leading the team, William and Mary finished with an 18-13 overall record, winning a program-best 12 conference games along the way.
This year’s team, however, comes back with an almost entirely different roster. Most notably, the Tribe saw graduate guards Riley Casey ’23, Sydney Wagner ’23 and senior forward Bre Bellamy ’23 leave the team after graduating in the spring. The trio was an integral piece of the Tribe’s success last season, both on and off the court. Casey, Wagner and Bellamy led the Tribe in scoring, averaging respectively 18, 16 and seven points per game. Casey and Wagner also lead the team in minutes played and three pointer field goals made, leaving a gaping hole in the Tribe’s offense heading into this season.
To fill those gaps, the Tribe brought in a strong class of recruits and transfers to keep last season’s momentum rolling into November. Freshman guards Cassidy Geddes and Monet Dance come to Williamsburg to replenish the Tribes backcourt, while freshman forward Cate Carlson looks to add depth to an experienced Tribe frontcourt. From the transfer portal, the Tribe added junior Bella Nascimento, a guard from Manhattan College, junior Anahi-Lee Cauley, a forward from Villanova and graduate student Nylah Young, a forward from CAA rival Hampton.
Young, who was named to this season’s CAA Preseason Second Team, tormented the CAA last year as a member of the Pirates. In 21 starts, Young averaged an impressive 14.1 points per game, marking the ninth highest in the conference that season. She also ranked 15th in rebounding, averaging six a game. Along with two double-doubles, Young scored 20+ points in eight different games as a senior, including a season-high 25 in a loss to William and Mary on Feb. 3.
When asked about her presence, Dickerson Davis expressed great anticipation regarding how well Young will integrate into the team this season.
“We’re going to play her in every position to be successful,” Dickerson Davis said. “She is expanding in her game, which is what I’m most excited about. I’m excited for you guys to see that as well, but she’s going to be a very important part of what we do.”
Young is equally happy to be in Williamsburg.
“I really appreciate the support, the conversations we have, everything just feels right here,” Young said. “I’m really excited for this new team, and I’m really excited to see what we do in the CAA this year.”
Despite the six new players William and Mary brought in this season, the Tribe will still heavily rely on the experience of their returning players. Senior forwards Kayla Beckwith and Rebekah Frisby-Smith and sophomore guard Alexa Mikeska all saw solid action last season and will each look to step into larger roles this season.
Dickerson Davis thinks blending last year’s experience with this year’s new talent will create a strong team chemistry, similar to the one that helped the Tribe perform so well last season.
“A lot of our returners are back and they know exactly what it takes to win in this league,” Dickerson Davis said. “They are working really hard and they just show the newcomers exactly what it was going to take for us to be successful, so everything is shaping up pretty nicely.”
Along with the new personnel, this year’s team will also approach the offensive side of the ball a little differently than last season. The Tribe heavily relied on three pointers last year. Seven hundred of the team’s 1887 shots in the 2022-23 season were threes, and although the Tribe shot a decent 32% in those attempts, coach Dickerson Davis is planning on utilizing the team’s other strengths in combination with the long ball to wreak havoc on offense this season.
“I think that we are a lot more versatile this year than we were last year,” Dickerson Davis said. “We are still shooting threes — a couple too many, at some practices, but because we are so much more versatile now, we are looking a lot into the paint.”
As the team gets closer and closer to the beginning of its season, Dickerson Davis also touched upon how fortunate the team is to be healthy.
“We have most of our team healthy right now, which is very good going into these first couple of games,” she said.
Overall, Tribe fans should be more than optimistic for this year’s team. Despite its different look and altered playing style, the Green and Gold are hungrier than ever to keep improving and ultimately bring a CAA title back home to Williamsburg.
“It’s different, and that’s okay,” Dickerson Davis said. “We’re just going to enjoy the process.”
The Tribe will open its season Nov. 6 against Norfolk State in Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va.