After making the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons, the Jackets hope to build on their newfound glory as they take on stiff competition.
Last season, the women’s team lost four seniors who won more games in their four years than any other graduating class. Jill Ingram, Daphne Mitchell, Janie Mitchell and Chioma Nnamaka were part of Head Coach MaChelle Joseph’s first recruiting class at Tech and helped the program get back-to-back 20-win seasons and Tech’s first ever NCAA Tournament victory. Nnamaka was drafted in the second round (21st overall) of the WNBA draft by the San Antonio Silver Stars and soon after traded to the Atlanta Dream. She was selected higher than any other player in Tech history. To fill in the void of this lost talent, Tech, for the second straight season, has brought in a top-10 nationally ranked recruiting class. The five freshmen added to this year’s roster are LaQuananisha Adams, Mo Bennett, Sasha Goodlet, Chelsea Regins, and Metra Walthour. Several of the freshmen should make an immediate impact this season.
Progress of the Program
Due to the success of women’s basketball the past five seasons under MaChelle Joseph, she was granted a four-year, $1.3 million extension earlier this year. Joseph has helped guide Tech to its best two seasons in school history and has consistently been able to bring in top recruiting classes. She has compiled an 84-66 record and guided the Jackets to a 22-10 record this past season, the most wins since Tech joined the ACC in 1979. With a young team coming back this year, Tech has great potential to be a contender and learn a lot from such a strong group of girls that left last season. Sophomore Alex Montgomery should have a big impact this year after having a standout freshman year and a solid 20 point, 8-9 shooting day for the Jackets in the exhibition last week.
The Jackets lost their top two scorers from last season. Mitchell averaged 16.4 to lead the team, followed by Nnamaka at 14.8 points. Mitchell had the second highest shooting percentage at (.459) of players on the team with over 100 attempts, and Nnamaka had 92 three point baskets, almost three times as many as the next closest player. The Jackets also lost their floor leader and point guard Jill Engram, who led the team with 111 assists despite starting just seven games. As one of the youngest teams in the conference with 10 freshmen and sophomores, the Jackets look to replace the scoring with new talent.
The Jackets team has lived and died by defense, a philosophy for many winning teams. Last year the Jackets held opponents to an average of 60.1 points per game and excluding two double overtime games and an early game against North Carolina, no one scored over 75 points on the Jackets’ defense. Tech also had a 191 point differential over opponents in the first half of all games last year (1061 – 870), but allowed over 1000 points in the second half of games (1014). In terms of margins, the Jackets led every one. Tech outscored their opponents by an average of 10.3 points per game and outrebounded their opponents by 1.9 rebounds per game.