Friday, November 4, 2016

Comings and Goings: Longwood 2016-17

Dayna Rouse signs with Longwood
We'd better hurry. The season is approaching and we're still rolling these out. We promised Hampton and Radford, but we're sneaking in Longwood first.

The series so far with three more to go.

VCU: Comings and Goings
George Mason: Comings and Goings
William and Mary: Comings and Goings
Richmond: Comings and Goings
Virginia: Comings and Goings
James Madison: Comings and Goings
Liberty: Comings and Goings
Virginia Tech: Comings and Goings
Old Dominion: Comings and Goings

Daeisha Brown: the 5-10 senior guard has left the team for personal reasons; second on the team in scoring last year with 9 ppg; was set to return for her fifth year; was an 1,000-point scorer, the 21st in Radford history
Raven Williams: the two-time captain, who averaged 5.4 ppg, graduated
Kyndal Skersick: the senior guard, who averaged a team-best 9.1 ppg and 53 3-pointers, also a team high, graduated
Deborah Headen: the senior guard, who averaged 8.3 ppg, graduated
Jaclyn Reagan: the sparingly used guard graduated
Khalilah Ali: played only nine games last year while recovering from an ACL tear during the 2014-15 season; has transferred to Norfolk State for graduate classes in social work and is on the Spartans roster for her final year of eligibility

Winnie Miller: 6-4 freshman forward from Seguin (Texas); soft hands, agile post who began basketball just 18 months ago
Khaila Hall: 5-10 freshman guard from West Rowan High in Cleveland, NC
Jada Russell: 5-7 freshman from Neumann Russell (Philadelphia), one of the top girls basketball powers in the nation
Dayna Rouse: 6-0 freshman from The Ellis School (Pittsburgh); also a track athlete who holds the school record in the 300 hurdles, clinched school's first playoff berth in over a decade as a senior

Where will the points come from? That's what we wonder with this Longwood team that is without its three leading scorers from last season. Skersick and Headen are lost to graduation and Brown's decision not to return is a blow, as the 1,000-point scorer, if healthy, could have done some damage in a Big South, particularly in a year when Liberty doesn't have its traditional bigs.

We've always loved the pedigree of Childress and her numbers two years in have been adequate, but we'd like her to take a leap her junior year and the Lancers need her to do so. Unfortunately shin splints have slowed her this preseason and she will start nonconference playing limited minutes because of them. Shin splints will also hinder redshirt junior Jovana Vukovic early.

Treasure Avery also continues to rehab from a herniated disk in her back and shouldn't be at full speed until late November. A hip injury will keep senior Emily Nylen from suiting up this season except for the season opener against Marquette, scheduled to bring near close to home in Rockford, Ill.; she'll tip off.

Junior Eboni Gilliam, who played 30 games last season with 22 starts, has also developed a reliable 15-footer and should be able to provide some of the offense; coach Bill Reinson is also expecting sophomore Ashlee Jones to be a contributor.

As for whose game has taken a giant leap, Reinson points to Micaela Ellis, last year's pass-first point guard, who has become more offensive minded. Also, look for Kate Spradlin, a redshirt freshman injured after just five games last season, to start this season as the 2 spot. Spadlin, also a 4.0 student, has worked that hard in getting herself ready for this season.

Among the newbies, don't be surprised if Rouse is a starter (a double-double in a scrimmage with Richmond made an impression on Reinson). The 6-1 swing plays can shoot the 3 and attack off the dribble with an ease and a flow that could make her an impact player in this program and the Big South. (As a high school senior playing for The Ellis School, she scored 56 points in a game playing against Imani Christian, which had a player score 55.)

We can't wait to watch Miller develop, her size and light feet make her a good get for the Lancers; "If we mess this up as coaches, it's on us," Reinson said. Rouse, a 3-point threat, comes in from a dynamic high school program and Hall, already a competent passer, will also be slowed early by shin splints.

Season opener: Nov. 11 at Marquette

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