head coach Kim McNeill

ECU women's basketball head coach Kim McNeill observes her team as they face the University of Georgia on Dec. 3, 2020.

The East Carolina University women’s basketball team ended their 2020-21 season with an 8-14 record, this offseason the team has already acquired seven new players that will help to bring the team’s number of wins up this season. 

The team ended their last season with a 63-73 loss against the University of Houston in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Championship. With their six conference wins, they ended their season ranked No. 6 out of 11 in the AAC. With the team’s new additions, they look to make it further in the tournament in the future.

Along with the addition of seven players, on June 14 McNeil added Tamoria Holmes to the coaching staff. Holmes will join the team as assistant coach for the 2021-22 season. Holmes both played college basketball and has coached on the college level. While coaching at Howard University she helped bring the school to record highs in winning and championships. With her coaching, the Pirates will have another strong leader to help lead them to victory.

“Tamoria is a great person who will be supportive and a mentor for our young women on the court and in life,” McNeil said. 

At the end of the season, they lost five seniors, but as the team prepares to return for next year, they have added four transfers and three freshmen. After the team’s last game, the student-athletes had two weeks off before four weeks of individual preseason training. 

While some players have already returned to campus for summer classes, the full team will return to Greenville, North Carolina later this month. The official schedule has not been released due to contracts, but head coach Kim McNeil has given a clue that the first game will be away. Past seasons have included 25 to 30 games, so that is a safe bet for this season as well. 

Out of the top five scorers from last season, three of them will be returning for the 2021-22 season and will hopefully contribute to more Pirates wins. Junior guard Taniyah Thompson, senior forward Maddie Moore and sophomore guard Synia Johnson each scored over 100 points individually last season. 

Two of the four transfers are fifth-year players and will help lead the team to more victories with their experience. Both five-year players Tylar Bennet from Clemson University and Brittany Franklin from the University of Kansas will also add to the team in height. Both women are over six feet tall, which will help the team compete with the other AAC teams that have a lot of height on their roster. 

The other two transfers are Da’Ja Green from Virginia Tech University and Danae McNeal from Clemson University. Green is a graduate student guard who will help in scoring as last season’s top scorer for the Pirates transferred. McNeal will also join as a sophomore guard who averaged 3.18 points a game in her 33 career games. 

The four freshmen that will add their talents to the team are forward Laila Acox from Blythewood, South Carolina, forward Iycez Adams from Kernersville, North Carolina and guard Paige Lyons from Norcross, Georgia. 

These four freshmen were officially signed on for this upcoming season on Nov.12, 2020. McNeil is excited to have fresh faces on the team as they will help the team improve. 

"They will not only contribute at a high level on the court but also in the classroom," said McNeil. 

Acox was rated the No. 1 recruit in her state by A1 Sports and SC Southern Hoops according to ecupirates.com. In just her junior year, she surpassed 1,000 points. Adams was ranked No. 2 in the 2021 Top 30 list and earned all-conference in two of her four years in grade school. Lyons averaged 10 points and three assists as a freshman in high school and will be a “great leader” for the team. 

Last season, the team’s stamina was affected due to the deserted stands because of COVID-19. This season, the team is ready to be back in action with fans in the stands. With crowd interaction, the team looks to rank higher in the AAC and bring their number of wins over their losses. 

“I don’t think fans realize how much they play a part in our success,” McNeil said.  

Once the team’s 2021-22 schedule is officially announced and pre-season workouts begin The East Carolinian will keep readers updated.

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