Saturday’s 2017-18 season opener is the start of a new and promising era of Gator women’s basketball. The excitement around this program is electric thanks to the arrival of new head coach Cam Newbauer. Coach Newbauer is establishing a culture and a system that will be on display Saturday as the Gators host Georgia State.
We Over Me
When Cam Newbauer was hired, he was tasked wish changing the culture and perception of the program. Last season, the Gators finished with a sub .500 record and only five conference wins. This season, Newbauer looks to build a “We Over Me” culture for the program. On the court, Newbauer wants to play a team oriented style that’s built on sharing the basketball. Strong ball movement is needed for this Gator team, who averaged 20 turnovers a game a year ago. Coach Newbauer knows that strong passes are key to fully executing the system that he wants to run.
The “We Over Me” culture also applies to the program’s desire to build a strong presence in the community. Newbauer believes going out into the community is bigger than basketball.
The Gators come into the season returning three starters from a year ago. Sophomore guard Delicia Washington looks to build on a co-SEC Freshman of the Year season. Senior forward Hayley Lorenzen has the eyes of many this season. Lorenzen was named a Katrina McClain Award Watch List for the nation’s best power forward.
Senior guard Dyandria Anderson, second in the SEC in the assist category, looks to finish her Gator career on a high note. Anderson also has some new weapons to get the ball to this season. After sitting out last season for transfer rules, redshirt junior guard Funda Nakkasoglu makes her Gator debut Saturday. Nakkasoglu has the highest scoring average in Utah State women’s basketball history with 19.2 points, after only two years of playing there.
The Gators also added graduate transfer guard Paulina Hersler from UCLA, who could be the fifth starter.
The Newbauer era and the 2017-18 season starts Saturday as the Gators host the Georgia State Panthers. The Panthers are led by their head coach Sharon Baldwin, who is in her eighth season as head coach. Last season, Georgia State had a sub-par 12-18 season.
However, Newbauer understands that Georgia State is a team the Gators can’t sleep on. The Panthers boast having the last two Sun Belt Freshman of the Year award winners on the roster. Sophomore guard and last year’s assist leader Jada Lewis and redshirt sophomore guard Madison Newby are players that the Gators need to watch out for. The Gators have a noticeable size advantage inside over the Panthers. Newbauer knows that the Gators need to take advantage of the mismatch in the paint.
The Gator women’s basketball team looks to get this season off to a good start. A win over Georgia State Saturday will do just that. Tip off from the O’Connell Center is at 4 p.m.