After another championship season, the women’s basketball team will enter the 2019-2020 season with a young team led by extremely talented senior leaders.
“This team is a little bit unique in that we’ve got a handful of players who have a lot of experience, and then we’ve got a huge number of players with little to no experience,” said head coach Bart Brooks.
Along with a young team, Brooks created an extremely difficult non-conference schedule against teams like the University of Maryland, Virginia Tech University and Marquette University.
But senior and 2019 Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year Ellie Harmeyer is the team’s new prime scorer — and she plans to grow off of the all-conference season she had last year.
“I mean the preseason stuff is pretty cool but it’s preseason like nothing’s happened this year and it’s all based on last year and so coming into this season, I’m just going to do what I do best and I’m just going to play my game to the best of its ability,” said Harmeyer.
The Bruins will be playing without superstar Darby Maggard for the first time in four years. Along with the absence of Jenny Roy, the lack of Maggard’s offensive presence may call into question how well-rounded the team is.
“Darby is a once in a lifetime player to coach and we don’t have another Darby on our roster but we do have a collection of players that can shoot threes,” said Brooks. “I don’t know if you’ll see a ton differently offensively other than the pieces in the people moving the ball and shooting the ball will be a little different.”
Harmeyer is coming off an amazing season where she averaged 16.9 points per game and an astounding 9.1 rebounds last season. She is the frontrunner for OVC Player of the Year and has two experienced teammates by her side in seniors Maura Muensterman and Maddie Wright, who will continue to strengthen the Bruins’ inside game.
The Bruins will still be a team that shoots a lot and works on the outside of the perimeter — Muensterman and Harmeyer will continue to be threats in the three-point game. Muensterman shot 40 percent from the arch in the 2018-2019 season. But with such fantastic post players, fans can expect a lot more scoring in the paint. Wright, Harmeyer and Muensterman offer threats on all aspects of the court. Those three alone shot 48 percent from the field last season, and there will be much more to come.
Wright is also coming off a stellar season where she averaged 9.4 points per game, 6.1 rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field. Wright brings a brand of size and defensive strength that the Bruins have lacked since Sally McCabe graduated in 2018. Wright recorded 13 blocks and 18 steals last season as well.
“I want to be someone the team can turn to,” said Wright. “I want to be that presence in the paint that the team has. I’m not the biggest player on the court but that is something I am good at is scoring in the post and being able to have that option for them.”
Some other key players for the Bruins this season will be sophomores Gracie Smith, Conley Chinn and Jamilyn Kinney. All three of these players brought some depth to the team last season and grew as athletes along the way. Kinney played behind Maggard all of last year and averaged 3.9 points per game. She will be handling the ball a lot this season, and will most likely be starting point guard for the Bruins.
The Bruins kick off their season Wednesday at the Curb Event Center against the University of Chattanooga, a team that Belmont beat 67-51 last season. The schedule doesn’t get any easier after the opener, as the Bruins will face the University of Central Florida, the University of Arkansas, Maryland and Virginia Tech before the end of November.
Notable non-conference games
Daytona Beach Tournament on Nov. 29 and 30. The Bruins will take part in the Daytona Beach Tournament at the end of November where they will face Virginia Tech and Maryland back-to-back. These games will give Brooks and his team of how well they can handle against big conference teams that played in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
At the University of Toledo on Dec. 3. Toledo defeated the Bruins last season 78-69 at the Curb. It will be interesting to see if Belmont can bounce back against Toledo team that has brought back seniors.
At Marquette on Dec. 21. The Bruins will face Big East Conference powerhouse Marquette in their final non-conference game of season. Marquette lost the Big East Tournament final last season but made a two-round run in the NCAA Tournament.
This article written by Steven Boero. Video produced by Abigail Bowen. Photo by Carina Eudy.