THE OPENING TIP
The Islanders women's basketball team opens up its 2013-14 regular season against Western Illinois on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the Dugan Wellness Center as part of the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic.
• The Islanders come into the 2013-14 season with the Southland's top-ranked recruiting class and the 86th class in the nation.
• The team features 10 newcomers this season after losing three starters and eight total letterwinners.
• Senior Ashley Darley returns as the team's leading scorer. Last season Darley averaged 7.9 points a game after sitting out the 2011-12 campaign with a medical redshirt.
• The Islanders dominated in their exhibition matchup with Texas A&M International, coasting to a 76-50 win. During the game A&M – Corpus Christi put its defense on display, holding the Dustdevils scoreless during a stretch of more than eight minutes.
• The offense also showed up in the exhibition, as the Islanders went on a 31-4 run in the final 12 minutes of the first half. A total of four A&M-Corpus Christi players hit double digits in the scoring column, while all but one Islander scored.
• Head coach Royce Chadwick will look to turn things around in his second year after finishing 4-25 in his first year at the helm of the Islanders.
This will mark the first matchup between the Islanders and the Leathernecks. Last season, Western Illinois finished with a 14-16 overall schedule and 7-9 in the Summit League to finish sixth. The Leathernecks have been tabbed to finish in the same position this year in the conference.
However, the Islanders will have a tough matchup with sophomore forward Ashley Luke who earned a spot on the preseason first team all-conference list. This comes after a season where she averaged 10.6 points per game to go along with 7.2 rebounds game en route to being named the league's Newcomer of the Year during the 2012-13 campaign. In the team's 71-60 win exhibition win against Quincy, Duke already posted a double-double with 13 points and 17 rebounds.
Western Illinois does have big shoes to fill though, as it loses its leading scorer from last year, as Saule Kontautaite departs after averaging 12.4 points per game. The Leathernecks will look to Duke and sophomore Michelle Maher, who averaged 10.1 points a game, to help pace a scoring attack that put up 64.5 points per game last year.
With the departure of eight players from last year's squad, the Islanders only have four returners for the 2013-14 season, made up of three seniors and one sophomore.
The leading scorer out of the bunch was Ashley Darley, who was second on the team in points scored with 7.9 a game. Darley also ranked second on the team in rebounds per game and steals per game last year. Taryn Gregory also returns for her final season after starting in 20 games last year. She comes into the year ranked fourth in career free-throw percentage with a .764 overall mark her first three years. Brandi Huff rounds out the trio of seniors after ranking third on the team in rebounds.
The lone sophomore on A&M – Corpus Christi's roster is Ashanti Plummer. The Manhattan, N.Y., native enters play this year after making an impact on the team her freshman year, ranking second on the team in games started with 22 and first in the team in blocks and 11th in the Southland in the same category.
The Islanders enter this season with the top-ranked recruiting class in the Southland after signing 10 newcomers.
Five of them join the Island University with collegiate experience – three of which did so at the Division I level. Two of the transfers have played for coach Royce Chadwick, as Shay Weaver and Jasmine Shaw come to the Island University after playing for him at Marshall. Shaw will look to make an immediate impact, while Weaver will sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Alissa Campanero will look to get the ball in the hands of shooters as she dished out 4.9 assists per game last season with Odessa College and has experience in Division I after playing her freshman season at Hawaii.
Shola Adebayo played at Eastern Oklahoma State Community College and averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game, while securing 12 double-doubles, picking up First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Third Team NJCAA All-American honors.
Lexy Harris joins the Islanders after averaging a double-double with Angelina Community College, averaging 12.8 points per game and 10.9 rebounds to go along with 2.1 blocks per game.
Rounding off the highly touted recruiting class are five freshmen, with all but one of those coming from Texas.
Ranked No. 63 in the ESPN Girls Recruiting Nationals Rankings was Camesha Davis, who averaged 16 points and 8.5 rebounds at Desoto High School. Another freshman that comes to the Coastal Bend almost averaging a double-double is Doshi Davis who averaged 11 points, 8.3 rebounds as a senior at Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas.
A freshman that managed to average a double-double her senior season of high school was Brittany Mbamalu, pulling down 10.1 rebounds a game to go along with 20.8 points. She was also named first team all-district her junior and senior seasons.
Looking to help out a team that averaged less than 50 points a game last season is Kassie Jones, who was ranked 10th in Texas in scoring her senior year, averaging 24 points a game.
The lone freshman from outside of Texas is Rau Jau' Terry who comes to A&M – Corpus Christi from Louisville, Ky., and was rated one of the top 250 players in the country by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
FILLING THE VOID
The Islanders will have to find a way to make up for losing their top scorer with Jessica Jammer departing after tallying 8.4 points a game last year. It also loses its assists leader, as Verne'Qua Taylor leaves after climbing to fifth in the Islanders record book, while ranking ninth in the Southland with 3.31 assists per game. Taylor also ranked first on the team and 11th in the conference in steals.
After finishing last season 3-15, the Islanders have been picked by the Southland coaches to finish ninth in the conference, while the SID Poll has A&M – Corpus Christi occupying the 10th spot.
Including its exhibition matchup, A&M – Corpus Christi will open its season with four-straight home games at the Dugan Wellness Center, as after their game with Western Illinois the Islanders will continue play in the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic on Saturday, Nov. 9 with a game against either UAB or Fairfield on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. depending on who wins and loses in the matchups on Friday.
The team will then be back in action on campus Thursday, Nov. 14, as Southern Utah comes to the Coastal Bend for a non-conference tilt at 7 p.m. before the Islanders finally leave the friendly confines of home for a three-game road trip.
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