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Felisha Legette-Jack adds Kristen Sharkey to Women's Basketball staff, other news

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UB Athletics

It says something about the 2014-15 year for UB Athletics that the tumultuous Women's Basketball season has mostly flown under the radar. Most of the attention in March and April focused understandably on the Men's Basketball team, but the off-court stories for the women have been hitting since the waning days of 2014.

Happily, that's mostly calmed down now, but for all the postseason hullabaloo with Nate Oats' team, consider what Felisha Legette-Jack has dealt with since her team was voted preseason favorites in the MAC East:

  • The team's star guard suffered a severe injury to her surgically-repaired ankle and was forced to play at limited effectiveness - if at all - through the second half of the season. She won't be returning to the court for her senior season.
  • A guard/forward hybrid who was a matchup nightmare and coming off a season-ending injury herself left the team unexpectedly in mid-January. She won't be back.
  • The team's most promising underclassman forward appeared ready to help UB weather the losses of Christa Baccas and Kristen Sharkey next year, but fell into a funk on the court over the last ten games of the year and announced her transfer shortly after the season ended.
  • After just one season with the program, assistant coach Blake DuDonis has left college basketball for now and will be coaching at Carlson High School at the mouth of the Detroit River in Michigan

That UB still advanced to the MAC Semifinals and ultimately the program's first-ever NIT is something to celebrate, but rather than being the first year of a Loesing-, Gregory-, and Malone-fueled run, it's an extremely young team - especially in the frontcourt - next year.

My catch-up post of a few days ago covered plenty of news, but women's basketball deserves a post of its own.

1 year remaining 2 remaining 3 remaining 4 remaining
PG Karin Moss Camera Miley Stephanie Reid Gabi Bade
SG Joanna Smith Liisa Ups Kandance Satterwhite
SF Katherine Ups Brittany Morrison
PF Mariah Suchan Tamara Brcina
C Cassie Oursler (January) Courtney Wilkins, Mirte Scheper


"Extremely young" wasn't an exaggeration. After bringing in five new players last year and getting four of them on the floor Coach Jack brings in another five - a 1-5 lineup in their own right - this coming season. It's perhaps the most wide-reaching class in program history, with Gabi Bade (California), Kandance Satterwhite, and Brittany Morrison (Ohio) representing the US, while Tamara Brcina (Bosnia) and Mirte Scheper (Netherlands) come from Europe. Both forwards, along with redshirt freshman Courtney Wilkins, are likely to see playing time immediately, as Cassie Oursler still has another semester to sit before eligible.

On the coaching side, Legette-Jack has replaced DuDonis with a familiar face in 2015 graduate Kristen Sharkey. Anyone who's watched Sharkey over the final two seasons of her career knows that Coach Jack's praise for the 1,000-point scorer isn't unwarranted.

The final bit of news comes from a higher power in the NCAA Rules Committee, and NCAA Women's Basketball is going to look wildly different next year. Foremost among the changes is a move from two twenty-minute halves to four ten-minute quarters. This has a slight effect on how team fouls and the bonus are implemented, and a slight effect on timeouts (two fewer per game), but it's somewhat unclear to me how much an effect this will have on "the flow of the game" that the Rules Committee is trumpeting.

Two other changes will have a significant effect on the game: Inside the final minute of the fourth quarter and any overtime period, teams will be able to advance the ball to the frontcourt after a backcourt timeout. Supposedly this change will "add excitement" to the end of games, but to my eyes it creates a different set of rules and changes the whole game at an arbitrary point. UB will have a guard-heavy lineup this year, and will likely once again rely on a strong press, and this rule change diminishes that strength at the end of a close game.

Additionally, the ten-second backcourt violation rule has been adjusted to prevent a new countdown after the ball is tipped out of bounds or awarded to the offense. This to me is a common-sense change that should have been in place long ago at all levels.

***

Hopefully that's about it for Women's Basketball. I'm pretty sure there's still technically one more scholarship available, but it would make sense to save that for next year's recruiting class and level things out a bit. With a staff and roster in place for next year, 2014-15 is safely in the rearview.

Go Bulls