#31 Western Kentucky Women's Basketball 2016-2017 Preview

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Overall Rank: #31
Conference Rank: #1 C-USA
The loss to Marshall in the Conference USA Tournament opener was very disappointing for Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers had beaten Marshall twice during the regular season, but their NCAA Tournament hopes were dashed in the 66-63 loss. Coach Michelle Clark-Heard did rally her team though and WKU made a nice run to the WNIT quarterfinals. And that postseason experience should prove important for what was a young team. WKU returns four starters and their top six scorers. None are more important than senior guard Kendall Noble. She averaged 18.1 points, 5.6 assists, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 steals last season.
2015-16 Record: 27-7, 15-3
2015-16 Postseason: WNIT
Coach: Michelle Clark-Heard
Coach Record: 103-32 at Western Kentucky, 127-64 overall
Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Jalynn McClain, Forward, 3.6 ppg
Taylor Brown, 4.8 ppg
Simone Goods, 2.6 ppg
Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Kendall Noble, Senior, Guard, 18.1 ppg
Tashia Brown, Junior, Forward, 17.5 ppg
Ivy Brown, Junior, Forward, 11.5 ppg
Kayla Smith, Sophomore, Guard, 5.6 ppg
Micah Jones, Senior, Guard, 6.0 ppg
Dee Givens, Sophomore, Forward, 5.8 ppg
Ima Akpan, Senior, Guard, 2.3 ppg
Sidnee Bopp, Sophomore, Guard, 1.2 ppg
Key New Players
Jaycee Coe, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Kentucky
Whitney Creech, Freshman, Guard
Raneem Elgedawy, Freshman, Center
Malaka Frank, Freshman, Guard
Naomi Mayes, Sophomore, Guard, JC Transfer
Sarah Price, Freshman, Forward
Noble will get plenty of scoring help from her teammates, most notably forwards Tashia Brown and Ivy Brown. Tashia Brown averaged 17.5 points per game and Ivy Brown added 11.5 points and a team high 8.6 rebounds per contest. The team is not that great on the glass, but between Noble and Ivy Brown, the Hilltoppers do have two very effective players on the glass. The return of Micah Jones, who missed all but two games last season, will take some of the pressure off of Noble. Two years ago Jones averaged 8.7 points and 3.8 assists. With Jones back in the starting lineup, Noble can spend more time concentrating on her scoring instead of having to handle the ball all of the time. And for somebody who averaged 18.1 points per game, it is scary to think what Noble can do during her senior season.
Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 70.8 (60th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.1 (164, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 42.5 (63, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.7 (228, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.9 (218, 9)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.4 (70, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.6 (146, 6)
Rebound Margin: 1.4 (120, 6)
Assists Per Game: 12.6 (197, 9)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.9 (21, 1)