Union Women’s basketball team hosted their regional games for the NCAA Division II National Tournament twice since officially joining the NCAA two years ago.
Their first year in the NCAA, they dominated the Gulf South Conference with their inside-out play that no one seemed to have an answer for. Head Coach Mark Campbell had a pair of guards that could get to the basket on command, a steady rotation of post players that could score at will and shooters that never missed a three. On paper, Union’s team was unstoppable.
The Lady Bulldogs have been known for their deadly shooters and their massive posts. Campbell has always had seasoned veterans on the court that have played with him a year before getting the honor to start on his perennial title contender. Last year was the first time Campbell started two freshmen, let alone guards that were entrusted to run his team and offense.
Though last year was filled with new faces and anxious expectations, this year begins with six new team members and an encouraging amount of variety the Lady Bulldogs haven’t tried in years.
“We have a lot of different people that can play at a lot of different positions and are very versatile,” Campbell said. “We have been known to have very similar people with one versatile player, now we have a team of very versatile players that can play many different positions.”
Campbell is looking forward to watching this new team interact with each other and fight through the difficult situations he will soon put them through in practice.
“If I’m the most difficult thing they have to fight through, tough game situations won’t be a problem,” Campbell said.
Losing key players that played extremely influential roles in the past is hard, but Campbell is not worried about filling specific roles. Campbell looks forward to finding out what certain players can bring to the table and how the team will fit together.
“Each year it’s the same picture, just different puzzle pieces,” Campbell said. “We have a lot of people returning that have learned what being a great leader should look like because they had to learn on the run last year. I think the people we signed fit right into our mold as high character people.”
Campbell is confident his new players are coming into this program with the same expectations the Lady Bulldogs have, to compete and to win.
The 2016-2017 Lady Bulldogs will be joined with four transfers and two freshmen. Anna Lee Little, senior business management major, joins the Lady Bulldogs from Arkansas Tech University. Her 6-foot frame and deadeye shooting from behind the arc gives the Lady Bulldogs the variety of a deep three threat or a small five guard play.
Bria Gaines, junior transfer social work major, is from Western Kentucky University. She expects to start play on December 15, due to NCAA rules about transfers. Gaines’ experience in Division I experience and talent on the court is going to be a huge asset to this Lady Bulldog team.
Sara Lytle, junior exercise science major, transferred from Northwest Mississippi Community College. She is expected to play the 3, 4, and 5. She was First Team All-American with a high percentage three and finishes with contact at the rim. She will be a tough player for Union that’s willing to fight and compete.
Alexus Calhoun, junior transfer education major, is from Berea College and will be sitting out this year.
Megan Lewis, freshman undecided major, was a high school standout. She was named all-district four times, all-district tournament four times, all-region three times, and played in the Tennessee/Georgia All-Star Game.
McKenna Montgomery, freshman undecided major, is a 5’11” guard that is versatile as well. She scored over 1,000 points in high school and shot 47 percent from 3-point range.
“I’m looking forward to the journey,” Campbell said. “We’re going to play a lot different than we have before in the past. It’s a process and trust is developed over time.”