This evening we got our first look at Felisha Legette-Jack's new-look Women's Basketball team, featuring an infusion of young talent that will seek to replace UB's top five leading scorers from last season's WNIT team. The Bulls took to the court for the first time against D-II Clarion in what would end up being a lopsided exhibition, 92-62 in UB's favor.
While this game was just an exhibition, it is the first time that we can see some of the new faces and make some inferences as to how this team will operate this season. It was also the first time we got to see the new rules in effect for Women's Basketball including the switch from 20-minute halves to 10-minute quarters.
The first quarter opened with Liisa Ups draining a pair quick 3 pointers to put the Bulls on the board early. From there the FLJ defense on full display with Karin Moss leading the charge. The Bulls got into Clarion's passing lanes, disrupted shots, and routinely stole passes away, finishing with 12 steals. In transition the Bulls were quick to the basket and created scoring opportunities with smart passing, especially from Stephanie Reid, an impact player last year who looks much improved from her breakout freshman campaign.
We and anyone paying attention had of questions coming into the season about the state of UB's forwards and the play of Mirte Scheper is quite encouraging looking forward. Scheper did a little bit of everything, finishing with 9 points and 5 rebounds; and she used her length and size inside to dominate the undersized Clarion team inside the paint.
Another name that stood out to me was freshman Gabi Bade. She's been touted as an excellent three point shooter and do-everything guard and she showed up early. Her performance was capped off by a cold-blooded 3-point shot at the end of the 2nd quarter that she drained with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock. Bade reminds me a lot of former Bull Margeaux Gupilan: both are confident 3 pointer shooters but can also drive the lane well. Bade finished with 13 points and was 2-5 from downtown.
Finally, another name that jumped out was Brittany Morrison. Morrison displayed a well-rounded game, showing the ability to drive to the basket, post-up down low and lay the ball in on the offensive side. Her ability to post-up down low and use her frame and large wingspan to create layup opportunities also meant that Morrison went to the charity stripe early and often, and with the new foul rules in place having a player that can draw fouls will give the Bulls an advantage in close games.
On the defensive side Morrison was a pest, consistently disrupting the flow of the game and coming up with several takeaways that created opportunities in transition. Morrison finished second on the team with 17 points and a team-leading 9 rebounds. She was far and away the most impressive player on the court tonight. Morrison will definitely be a name to watch moving forward.
All in all it was a successful night for the Bulls as 13 players saw time on the court and the team was effective in all phases of the game. The Bulls also managed to put up 92 points with Joanna Smith shouldering the load as she'll be expected to for much of the season, More importantly, Stephanie Reid didn't score. For this team to put up that many points with none from Reid shows that there is a good group that can and will step up and score when called upon. I'll reiterate that this is only an exhibition but it's a positive step forward for a young team that's looking to build confidence heading into the regular season.