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Plenty of Changes as Another Season of Syracuse Women's Basketball Approaches

After a long and busy offseason, women’s hoops are finally back in the Carrier Dome this Wednesday. The Orange will host their season opener against the Monmouth Blue Hawks at 7 p.m.

Last season the women finished fourth in the ACC with a record of 15-9 and 9-7 in the conference. The Orange knocked off Boston College and Florida State in the ACC Tournament, but fell to the Louisville Cardinals in the semifinals.

Going into the NCAA tournament the women were the number eight seed. They shut down South Dakota State in the first round, but lost to the number one seeded Connecticut Huskies to end their season.

Heading into the 2021-2022 season there are a lot of unfamiliar faces. The downhill spiral began when twelve players entered the transfer portal, which was the most in Women’s College Basketball this offseason. The departures started in the early offseason and shortly after, there were misconduct allegations against former head coach Quentin Hillsman.

Hillsman resigned in early August after 16 seasons with the program. Former assistant coach to Hillsman, Vonn Read will be the acting head coach. Read has been with the program since before the start of the 2011-2012 season, but has never had a head coaching job.
Acting Head Coach Vonn Read, seen last year in a game versus Virginia Tech

One of the key players that transferred out of the program include all ACC first-team and co-defensive ACC player of the year Kamillia Cardoso. She led the team in blocks with 56 and field goal percentage with 57.6%. In her freshman year she averaged 13.6 points per game and eight rebounds. The sophomore leaves Syracuse and will play for the number one team in the country, South Carolina this season.

The only returning players from last season because of the transfer portal or graduation are redshirt sophomore Teisa Hyman, sophomore Ava Irvin and sophomore Priscilla Williams.

Williams will need to take on a bigger role this season. The former 2020 McDonald’s All-American averaged 21.5 minutes per game and averaged just under nine points per game.

There is a lot of talent on this year’s team. The Orange have nine newcomers including seven transfers, and six of those seven transfers have previously played at power five schools. Some schools include USC, Texas Tech and Baylor.

One player to watch for is former Kansas State guard Christianna Carr. The senior was mentioned in the ESPN top 25 transfers for this season. Carr previously played three seasons as a Wildcat under her father Chris Carr who was the assistant coach at Kansas State.

Carr was named 2021 All-Big 12 Honorable mention and started in 24 games last year. The 6’1’ guard ranks top-10 in career 3-point field goals with 166 at Kansas State.

The women’s basketball team comes into the new season ranked 13th in the ACC preseason coaches poll. In the Blue Ribbon Poll, they were ranked a place higher to finish 12th in the conference out of fifteen teams.

Syracuse faces Monmouth in their season opener and Syracuse isn’t the only team with a change at the head coaching position. After a 2-16 season, Monmouth hired Ginny Boggess. Boggess previously was the assistant coach and head recruiting coach at Penn State for two seasons.

In the women’s first conference game on November 14th against Notre Dame, Felisha Legette-Jack will become the first female basketball player at Syracuse to have her jersey number retired. The Syracuse native began her collegiate career in 1984 and left in 1989 ranked eighth in program history with 1,526 points and ranked fourth in program history in rebounds with 927.
Sophomore Guard Priscilla Williams is one of only three returning players from last years roster.

Looking further into their schedule this month, the Orange will compete in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. Only Saturday’s game on November 20th against South Florida has been determined. The Orange will either face UConn or Minnesota on Sunday November 21st. Monday November 22nd’s game has not been announced.

At the beginning of December, Syracuse will participate in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge hosting Ohio State in the dome. Last season this tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Two games to watch for the Orange this season are the two games against Louisville. Syracuse will travel to Louisville on Thursday January 13th and host the Cardinals at the dome on Sunday February 6th.

Not only did the Cardinals end the Orange’s race for the ACC title after beating them 72-59, they also added former Syracuse player Emily Engstler to their roster. After coming off the bench as a junior, Engslter was ACC’s co-sixth player of the year. She recorded a season high of 21 points and 10 rebounds against Louisville in the ACC Tournament.

Syracuse looks to make a run back to the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight year. It all begins against Monmouth on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Katelyn McCarthy covers Syracuse Women's Basketball for WAER and is a graduate student at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.