With a new coach comes new expectations for the Belmont women’s basketball team.
Over the summer, Cameron Newbauer was hired to fill the position vacated by former coach Brittney Ezell’s resignation, and ever since then he and his staff have been working to establish a new kind of team mentality.
“We don’t talk much about goals and expectations,” said Newbauer. “I know it sounds silly to say that, but our goals and expectations are to go as hard as we can everyday with the best possible attitude”
Newbauer said as a first year coach with a new team, they are still trying to figure each other out daily.
“Our staff is trying to learn from the players,” he said. “Best ways to make them tick. And it’s just a fun process right now getting to know them as individuals and as basketball players.”
He also said that the newness factor plays into why they haven’t set any specific long-term goals just yet.
“We want to be realistic,” Newbauer said. “But most importantly we want to work as hard as we can first and foremost.”
Based on Belmont’s previous successes, there may not be as much of waiting period to see an improvement.
For the past few seasons, Belmont has been pushing to improve. Last year, the Bruins recorded 18 wins for the first time since 2008-09 and earned its fifth-straight conference tournament appearance. The fight paid off with Belmont earning an invitation to the Women’s Basketball Invitational, which they lost to top-seeded Detroit.
This season, the Bruins were selected to finish second in the East Division of the Ohio Valley Conference.
While success of past seasons bodes well for Belmont, the team suffered some significant losses in leadership this off-season.
Katie Brooks, Jordan Coleman and Alyssa Visbeen who all averaged a combined 28 points-per-game graduated, leaving the team short on upperclassman leadership.
Returning starter Molly Ernst is the only senior on this year’s squad. She averaged nine points per game and ended the season ranked 47th in three-point field goals per game (2.45) for all NCAA DI players. Ernst, who knocked down 213 3-pointers last season, also holds sixth place in all-time three-point field-goals made at Belmont and fourth all-time for the NCAA era.
“Having one senior who has been through three different coaches, it excites me to try and give her the best possible senior year she can have because she is more than worthy of it,” said Newbauer. “She’s Belmont through-and-through.”
Preseason all-conference selection Jordyn Luffman, Katie Carroll, Adrienne Tarrence and Torie Vaught are all expected to put in some considerable minutes for the Bruins this season.
“Obviously, we’ve got a young team,” said Newbauer. “I’m anxious to see what they can contribute. We are young but we have a very strong junior class that I feel will be relied on heavily. So I’m just excited to see the level that they will take us.”
“I try not to look ahead, but it does excite me to know that I’m going to have 13 of these 14 players for the next two years.”
But on-court leadership shifts will not be the only change fans will see on the court.
Starting this season, a new series of NCAA rules for women’s basketball go into effect, including the 10-second backcourt rule that is believed will greatly speed up the tempo. Prior to the 10-second rule approval, teams could take as much time off the 30-second shot clock as they wanted before crossing the half-court line. This will be the first time women’s basketball will have a backcourt rule since the NCAA began overseeing the sport in the 1981-82.
Tomorrow is the Bruins’ first game of the season at IUPUI. Monday, Belmont returns home to host former Atlantic Sun foe Mercer for Newbauer’s first home game ever as coach.
Other top match-ups in the Bruins regular season schedule include Kent State, Wake Forest, Georgia, Missouri and a trip to Puerto Rico for a Christmas tournament.
Conference play starts on Dec. 28 at SIU Edwardsville. Belmont will host defending conference champions Tennessee Tech, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee State in doubleheaders this year.