New kids on the block
Tech adds two Tennessee five-star prospects to the fold for this season: forward Elizabeth Dixon from Germantown, and wing Elizabeth Balogun from Chattanooga. Both players received glowing evaluations as high schoolers; ESPN’s HoopGurlz described Balogun as “among the elite small forwards in the class of 2018” and Dixon as an “ultra-athletic interior performer.” Last year, Kierra Fletcher was a top performer as a freshman. The year before, it was Rookie of the Year Francesca Pan. Both freshmen will have a chance to shine.
Replacing the bigs
Both Fletcher and Pan will undoubtedly be important returning contributors, but they cannot replace two more Jackets who have been key players for the team for year. Graduated seniors Zaire O’Neill — the reigning ACC Sixth Player of the Year — and Elo Edeferioka provided significant toughness and a dominating presence in the paint. In this regard, the team will have to look to players like Dixon to pitch in; she is the tallest player on the team and was ranked No. 5 at her position in the recruiting class.
Get better on the road
At home, the Jackets are formidable against nearly anyone. The team even nearly knocked off then-No. 3 Louisville on December 28, a game they would have almost certainly won if not for the heroics of Cardinals superstar Asia Durr. On the road, the 2017-18 team was a different story altogether, winning only one conference game on the road. This year’s team has the talent to make the NCAA Tournament, but for that to happen, they need to close out games away from McCamish Pavilion.