BY JakE geiger, staff wrtier
Melanie Moore will begin her second season as the head coach of Xavier women’s basketball on Wednesday, as Xavier will take on Detroit Mercy to open the season
Moore went 3-27 in her first season at the helm, but a lot of optimism exists as the Musketeers return a plethora of starters and intriguing newcomers.
WhatwillXavierneedto do to win more games and strengthen their position in the Big East?
Xavier’s non-conference schedule includes three opponents who had winning seasons in 2019-2020. Cincinnati headlines this list as they finished 22-10 last season.
Xavier will look for revenge this season as they fell at Fifth Third Arena 85-78 last season.
Xavier is also facing Morgan State and Valparaiso in the coming weeks. Both will be tough tests and be great games to prepare for Big East play.
This season’s schedule could change, however, due to COVID-19. The Musketeers will also look to improve in conference play this season after going 2-16 last season.
Powerhouse Connecticut (UConn) joins the Big East for the 2020 campaign and is the undoubted preseason favorite. UConn was almost unanimously chosen as the top team in the conference.
DePaul returns as the reigning Big East champions and was ranked second in the preseason poll. Xavier slotted into the ninth spot out of eleven teams.
Xavier returns all five starters from 2019 team and that includes All-BigEast forward A’riana Gray.
Gray is now in her senior season after coming off of a strong junior campaign, where she averaged 16 points and nine rebounds a game. Gray was also named to the preseason All-Big East team by the coaches, and expectations are sky high.
Senior guard Aaliyah Dunham is also one of the key returning starters. Dunham averaged eight points and four assists per game last season. She also ranked 25th in the NCAA in assist-to-turnover ratio.Dunham proved she is a great game manager and will definitely have the keys to this year’s offense.
The Musketeers also return pivotal outside shooting in sophomore guard Morgan Sharps and junior guard Lauren Waslyon. Sharps led the team last season with 48 three pointers while Waslyon had 44.
Both players will need to improve upon their three point success to give Xavier options from the perimeter.
Xavier also returns leading shot blocker Ayanna Townsend. Townsend will play a huge role as a presence in the middle for the Musketeers defense.
Lastly, a name that should excite all Xavier fans is sophomore guard Kaelynn Satterfield. Satterfield was granted immediate eligibility from the NCAAaftertransferringfrom Ohio State this past season.
Satterfield was a five-star recruit out of high school and ranked as the 39th best player in the entire country.
Another intriguing name is freshman guard Nia Clark. Clark is a transfer from Miami (OH) and is looking to bring more depth to the guard position. Clark averaged 11 Points and three rebounds during her time as a Redhawk.
Moore has an improved squad heading into the 2020 season.With outside shooting, depth, a lot returning talent and a star like Gray, Xavier could definitely surprise some teams in the Big East and contend for the NCAA tournament.