Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Toth and Depin: Five predictions 2022-23 women’s basketball season

Season opens on November 7 against Central Connecticut State
Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

For a team who won the Atlantic-10 championship and had a March Madness appearance, the Massachusetts women’s basketball team is expected to hit those same benchmarks and potentially more. Unanimously selected to be the best team in the A-10, the Minutewomen have lofty expectations coming into the season. Here are five predictions for the 2022-2023 UMass women’s basketball season.

Free Throw shooting will be 75 percent or better

Last season, the Minutewomen shot just over 68 percent from the free throw line. In fact, in head coach Tory Verdi’s time at UMass, they have never shot above 72 percent from the charity stripe. Possibly the boldest prediction? UMass will shoot 75 percent or better from the line.

The Minutewomen shot 12-14 (85.7 percent) for free throws in their exhibition game against Assumption, and there is no sign that the percentage will dip more than 10 percent below what we saw in the exhibition.

Sam Breen led the team in free throws, hitting all six of her attempts. Breen’s aggressiveness on offense leads other teams to foul to try to stop her, and as we saw, she’s more than capable from the line. With her taking the lion’s share of free throws, she could carry the percentage on her back.

Even with added height, Sam Breen will lead the team in rebounds

Coming into the 2022-23 season, the Minutewomen have added two notable transfers with height to their roster, Laila Fair (6-foot-2 inches) and Piath Gabriel (6-foot-5-inches). Still, Breen, a 6-foot 1-inch forward, will continue to out rebound both new additions.

UMass fans expect Breen to excel in all facets of the game, especially rebounding. She snatched 15 rebounds against the Greyhounds, with Fair and Gabriel grabbing a combined seven total. This performance is nothing out of the ordinary for Breen, being active on both ends of the floor. Her grit is the driving factor to grab boards despite height differences, something that won’t go away.

Sydney Taylor will shoot close to if not 40 percent from three 

If there’s one person you want shooting the game-winning triple, it’s Sydney Taylor. Averaging 34.6 percent from behind the arc last year, Taylor is a crucial asset for the Minutewomen.

Taylor showcased her talent in Sunday’s exhibition game against Assumption. While playing the full 40 minutes, she was able to net four 3-pointers and finish the game with 21 points.

Since she’s known for her 3-point shot, she has to work that much harder to find space for it. Taylor’s footwork is almost impossible to guard, with a classic step-back move leaving defenders reaching. Taylor will continue to find her shot this season, and there’s no doubt she’ll hit them.

Ber’Nyah Mayo will average double-digit points and over five assists per game

Breen and Taylor have been outstanding leading scorers for the past two years, but Ber’Nyah Mayo, a junior guard, will join the two of them this season. She averaged 9.9 points per game last season, just shy of the double-digit goal we believe she can achieve this year. Mayo plays a vital role, alternating the point guard position with Destiney Philoxy, seeing the floor well and distributing to her teammates.

Mayo’s generosity with the ball is not her only defining trait. At 5-foot 6-inches, she is still able to cut through the paint to find open looks or hang back for a three. Her three-dimensional offense will allow for the Minutewomen to operate smoothly.

Stefanie Kulesza will have an expanded role

Stefanie Kulesza was put into a new role during the exhibition game, becoming a more focal part of the offense than she ever was her freshman year. Attempting 20 shots for the entirety of her freshman year, she shot seven times against the Greyhounds.

Kulesza, a 5-foot-11-inch guard, shot 38.5 percent on 3-pointers last season. Granted, she only attempted 13 shots, and shot 0-4 in the exhibition, but if she can find consistency with her shot, she could be a vital piece in the offensive scheme. Verdi is known to keep his rotations short, so Kulesza will need to show him something early.

Rachel Toth can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @racheltoth46. Johnny Depin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jdepin101.

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    MTothNov 6, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    Looking forward to a great season