The University of Wyoming Cowgirl Basketball team looks to use experience, depth, and defense to succeed this coming season.
The Cowgirls will be returning four out of five of their starters from last season along with experience coming off the bench.
“I think this team is probably as deep as what we have had. The experience is there.” UW Women’s Basketball head coach Joe Legerski said.
This will be Legerski’s fifteenth season as head coach for UW.
Of the four returning starters, one of them is senior guard Liv Roberts. Robert’s season was cut short last year due to her tearing her ACL in her right knee.
Despite missing the last seven games last season Roberts still lead the Cowgirls in both points and rebounds. Roberts averaged 7.8 rebounds per game and 15.6 points per game. She would be named to the All-Mountain West and All-Defensive team following the season.
Roberts was responsible for a lot of the success the team experience last season. However, in the last two weeks of the season, the team won three out of the final four games allowing them to finish second in the conference.
This showed that the Cowgirls can be successful without Roberts on the court. It is not yet clear when Roberts may be able to return this season. Roberts will be evaluated by the UW training staff and then a potential date can be set.
“If there is ever a person that could come back quicker from an ACL injury it definitely will be Liv,” Legerski said.
Until that happens another player or players will have to step up and fill that role.
The Cowgirls do need to replace one member from their starting five from the previous season, guard Hailey Legocki. The Sheridan native was a major contributor last season. Legocki was fourth in scoring and second in assists on the team last year. Legocki also started in all 32 games last season.
Luckily for the Cowgirls, their depth can put the responsibility on multiple players instead of just one person.
“Right now my view is that we are going to be able to play, nine, ten, elven players each and every night,” Legerski said.
This depth is not only attributed to last season’s experience but also the work put in from the offseason.
“We have made great strides in the off-season,” Legerski said.
Two players from the Cowgirls team were able to play a lot of the summer since they were apart of their national teams. Sophomore forward Selale Kepenc played for the Turkey National Team allowing her to get more game experience. Junior forward Tijana Raca from Greece also was able to play on a national team this past summer.
With all of this the Cowgirls have their experience and depth, now Legerski is once again returning focus to the defensive side of the ball.
“Our goal again is to be a very good defensive team,” Legerski said.
Last season Legerski made a commitment to the defensive side of the ball and make sure the Cowgirls were a tough defensive team. With the strong commitment to defense Legerski said that It was able to keep us in games when we were not playing as well offensively as we can.
The Cowgirls hope to replicate the success they had last year, but their opponents will not be underestimating them this year. The Cowgirls are not going to be able to surprise anybody this year Legerski said. A year ago the Cowgirls were picked to finish 8 out of 11 teams in the Mountain West Conference.
“The Mountain West Conference is always difficult,” Legerski said.
Last year the conference sent five teams to postseason tournaments and there are teams that consistently have good teams. The Cowgirls have a lot of experience in the conference and have a mature group to lead them.
The Cowgirls have four seniors this year including Roberts, Natalie Baker, Skyler Snodgrass, and Marleah Campbell. Roberts and Baker are returning starters and will be joined by juniors Bailee Cotton and Clara Tapia. Cowgirls also return sixth player of the year for the conference, junior Marta Gomez.
If Roberts is able to return and play at the same level, the Cowgirls are able to replace Legocki, and the team is able to maintain a strong drive to succeed the Cowgirls will “be a tough team to beat,” said Legerski.
The Cowgirls first game of the season will be at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 at the Arena-Auditorium aka the Dome of Doom in Laramie.