Official practices for the Western Michigan Women’s basketball team began this week.
As the team is preparing for the season, let’s take a look at three things to keep an eye on in the preseason.
This team is very young with zero returning starters, and the only significant production coming back is from bench minutes by senior Reilly Jacobson who averaged six points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
Junior guard Maddie Watters, who averaged 2.7 points per game off the WMU bench last season, provides some experience for the Broncos and should see an increased role this season.
Sophomore guard Sydney Shafer is back after a productive season off the WMU bench last year, averaging 4.4 points per game in 2019. Shafer gives the Broncos a threat from the perimeter as she also is expected to play increased minutes this season.
Freshman Hannah Spitzley could factor into the Broncos rotation in a hurry if she’s able to build upon the success she had in high school as back-to-back AP Division 3 player of the year in Michigan. Spitzley led Pewamo-Westphalia High School to its first ever state title as a junior and had the team set to play for its fourth consecutive regional championship before the state playoffs were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic this spring.
With the departures of forward Leighah Amori-Wool (Stony Brook) and guard Jordan Walker (Tennessee), the team will be looking for a new identity as last season, Wool was a huge part coach Shane Clipfell’s gameplan as a safety valve in the paint. Look for a more wide open run and shoot kind of team as the returners for the squad are more perimeter oriented.
Walker was the player the Broncos could go to in one-on-one situations and someone who could create her own shot, so Clipfell will have to figure out which of his players will give his team that dynamic, playmaking threat.
Replacing the middle
Breanna Mobley, who became the top rebounder in Bronco history last season, will have to be replaced.
The Broncos are especially inexperienced in the front court outside of Jacobson, so how that is handled going into the season will be key.
Sophomore Ashley Konkle should be a major part of filling in the middle for the Broncos, as she averaged 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds in the 13 games she appeared in as a freshman last season.