Sophia Belletti, Staff Writer
Head coach Beth O’Boyle returns to her second season at the helm of the women’s basketball program. Last season, O’Boyle led the team to a 16-14 record, which placed them at eighth in the Atlantic 10.
The 2015-16 roster is stacked with upperclassmen and veteran players. Nine of the top-10 scorers for the 2014-15 season return to VCU, welcoming back 90 percent of its scoring production and 91 percent of rebounding.
One of the biggest distinctions between last year’s team and this year’s is the increased competition in practice. Katherine Strong, Sandria Skinner and Bria Gibson are all freshman who will add height to the rotation, standing 5-foot-11 and taller, respectively.
“Sandra and Bria are tough and battle everyday and Katherine is an excellent outside shooter,” O’Boyle said. “For us to play at the pace we want to play means we have to rebound. One of the most important things for us is getting some size in there.”
Redshirt junior guard Galaisha Goodhope and redshirt senior forward Jessica Ogunnorin are eligible transfer players who will increase the roster’s depth.
Goodhope left Old Dominion University for VCU at the end of the 2014 season. During her time with the Lady Monarchs, she averaged 8.1 points and a team-high 3.6 assists. In 2013 she was named to the CAA’s All-Rookie Team.
During her last season at Stony Brook University, O’Boyle recruited Ogunnorin. The 6-foot-1 forward averaged 9.0 points per game at SBU. Ogunnorin led her team and was third in the conference in rebounding with 7.8 rebounds per game. She was named to the America East All-Defensive and America East All-Academic team.
“She is very aggressive on the boards, both offensively and defensively,” O’Boyle said. “She can also be a really good shutdown defender and has a really smooth pull up jumper. She had some really big games for us when she was at Stony Brook and I think she helps us with our competition in practice. It’s really important when you can create that atmosphere in practice when everyone’s competing.”
O’Boyle said this year’s increase in depth will allow the Lady Rams to compete at a faster tempo.
Junior guard Isis Thorpe, the leading scorer from last season, returns for the Lady Rams 60 three-pointers shy of becoming VCU’s career leader in that department. She has surpassed 60 three-pointers in her first two seasons, hitting 74 three-pointers her freshman year and 63 last year.
Thorpe ranked sixth in the A-10 in 3-point field goal percentage (.404) overall last season and ranked 15th in scoring during A-10 games, with 12.3 points per game.
Alaeze was named A-10 Preseason Third Team. The Baltimore native averaged career highs in points (10.22 ppg) and rebounds (6.9 rpg) last season and was named A-10 third team. She led VCU in rebounds and assists in 2014-2015 and ranked second on the team in scoring.
“She been an excellent leader for us and a role model for the younger players,” O’Boyle said. “She’s one of the most fit players and she sets the standards with our conditioning and I think our players look up to her.”
The Lady Rams begin their season at the Stu against Coppin State University.
Sophia Belletti, Staff Writer
Sophia is a sophomore journalism major who writes for the Odyssey in addition to the news, sports and spectrum sections of the CT. Sophia also works in sales at Nordstrom and likes hiking and going to concerts. // Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn