By: Ben Brady
Coming off a year where the Missouri women’s basketball team went 7-9 in the SEC and 19-14 overall, expectations are high for the Tigers to compete in a tough conference. The 19 wins last season were the most wins the program had put up since the 2005-06 season. While the goal is always to make the NCAA tournament, the Tigers made it to the Quarterfinals of WNIT last season, which was a victory in and of itself with the injuries Mizzou had. Those two postseason wins were the most Mizzou had since the 2002-03 campaign.
Last season Missouri had a stifling defense, posting the best field goal percentage in the SEC (35.1) and defensive rebounds per game (29.0). With Jordan Frericks, Kayla McDowell, and Lindsey Cunningham all coming back, the defensive rebounding numbers should stay the same and even get better. Cunningham said that the whole team is excited to play a real game because they are sick of playing each other.
A huge storyline heading into the season is if Mizzou’s recruiting class of Sophie Cunningham and Cierra Porter may be the best ever. The additions of Cunningham and Porter could push the program over the edge and give the Tigers their first tournament berth since 2005-06.
Coach Robin Pingeton said repeatedly that she wants her players “playing for the name on the front of their jerseys, not the name on the back.” Starting guard Lindsey Cunningham is also following this philosophy showing how this team is following a new message. Losing three-point shooter Morgan Eye puts a damper to an already struggling offense but the team is working to become less reliant on the three-ball.
With injuries plaguing most of the Tiger season last year and still putting up a decent record shows the depth they had last year and their potential this year if players can stay healthy. It may only be an exhibition game against Southwest Baptist but this is a great test to see what the team actually looks like. It is also a great way for Coach Pingeton to decide on a starting lineup for their first game of the season on Friday Nov. 13th, when they play in-state rival Missouri State.