By: Brendan Burris ~Staff Writer~
As the 2016-2017 Xavier basketball season gets underway, there are plenty of fresh, new faces on both the men’s and women’s sides looking to make a quick impact for their respective teams.
Fans will see four new players on the floor for the women’s basketball team, adding depth to both the frontcourt and backcourt for coach Brian Neal. Freshmen guards Ashley Gomez from Oklahoma City and Na’Teshia Owens from Mexia, Texas, will look to complement upperclassmen like Erica Thompson and Martha Thompson.
Forwards Megan Christopher from Cincinnati and redshirt freshman Tierra Floyd from Toledo will also shore up the paint and partner with junior Anniina Äijänen and senior Leah Schaefer.
In addition to the players, Neal brings on two new assistants this season, Christian Stefanopoulos and Mark Stephens.
Stefanopoulos brings seven years of assistant coaching experience to the Musketeers, coming from the Seton Hall Pirates after coaching at the University of Kentucky. In addition to coaching at Kentucky, Stefanopoulos played for both Austin Peay and Thomas More in her collegiate basketball career.
Stephens, hired in September, comes to Xavier after four years as the head varsity coach of Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School in Indianapolis, where he won back-to-back conference titles.
Chris Mack’s NCAA Tournament team from last season brings back some of its core pieces but also adds four new faces that are sure to make an immediate impact on the floor. Freshmen Quentin Goodin from Campbellsville, Ky., and Tyrique Jones from Bloomfield, Conn., will most likely provide the Musketeers with some valuable play off the bench behind the likes of redshirt sophomore Edmond Sumner and junior Trevon Bluiett.
Two transfers, Malcolm Bernard and RaShid Gaston, have joined the Musketeers as well for the upcoming season.
Bernard, from Miami, Fla., comes to Cincinnati from Florida A&M having also previously played at Charleston Southern. Gaston, from Warren, Ohio, comes to Xavier from Norfolk State after being allowed to practice with the Musketeers but forced to sit out games per the NCAA transfer rules.
The coaching staff remains the same.