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Women’s college basketball preview: Wagner welcomes spotlight | Program

Women’s college basketball preview: Wagner welcomes spotlight | Program

There are probably more than two ways to look at a preseason pick to win a conference title, but the extremes are “hey, someone thinks we’re good” on one end and “thanks for the 500-pound kryptonite necklace” on the other.

The Wagner College women’s basketball team finds itself in that space as the new season begins Monday night with the Manhattan College opener, but coach Terrell Coburn is definitely leaning one way.

The second-year head coach of this team said: “I think more that it is an honor to be in that position. Our team is hungry and we have a lot to prove, so I’m not worried about the pressure.

What makes the podium remarkable is that Wagner last won the Northeast Conference Tournament in 1989 and has never won it since the NEC champion began earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

So, while the thought of earning the program’s first NCAA berth is sure to quicken the Seahawks’ collective pulse, Coburn is taking a deep breath.

“We haven’t won anything,” he said. We are still contenders. “We have a responsibility to continue to embrace the process we’re going through and do it the right way to get the results we want.”

Coburn has the best kind of coaching security — experienced players who have played key roles on good teams — Wagner finished second and then fourth in the last two NEC tournaments, lost to Mount St. Mary’s in the 2021 final and fell to Mount in the last. half of the year

Among the returnees are first-team All-NEC point guard Xania Tybol, who led the conference last season, and point guard Kim Nwabudo. The former high school teammates from Long Island transferred to Wagner from separate colleges before the 2020-21 season.

“(Thybulle) exhibits a lot of great qualities that a point guard should have, and one of the biggest ones is leadership. He’s been great on and off the court,” Coburn said. “They feed off each other and he does a great job of reading his teammates. He’s a great passer and game manager, but we’re going to surprise a lot of people. … He can also put the ball in the basket.”

Wagner’s Zhaneia Thybulle was a preseason NEC first-team selection who led the conference in assists last season. (Courtesy of Wagner College Athletics)

Novabudo provided a solid interior to reduce the heat from the now graduated Emilija Christa Grava. He’ll be more of a focal point in the interior this season, but Coburn suggests he’s ready for the extra load.

“I’m really proud of him from a basketball standpoint,” Coburn said. He is in the best basketball shape of his career. He’s going to have a big season. “He’s been able to adapt to any capacity and we’ve been able to do a lot with him.”

Wagner has 13 players on the roster, with three transfers — including Islander Julia Fabuzzi — and two freshmen adding to the eight returners.

Coburn has veteran depth at guard, with juniors Alex Cowan and Marissa Sanchez-Henry able to steer the ship at times, a nice shooting wing in Lina Lucnice and the versatile Draya Hayward to drop almost anywhere, but mostly up front. Next to Navabodo.

Hayward carries a load unlike any other Seahawk, because as much as Coburn likes the senior in Newark’s offense, he says he’s absolutely outstanding defensively. Every night he will have the opportunity to guard the other team’s best player.

From a defensive-minded coach like Coburn, that means a mouthful. But Heyward led the conference in steals and steals per game last season, and that wasn’t the only defensive stat Wagner excelled at. The Seahawks were 10th nationally in 3-point field goal defense (26.1%) and 88th nationally in total FG defense (38.0%). They allowed just 58.2 points per game (59th in DI, 2nd in NEC) and 19.2 turnovers per game (29th nationally).

Veteran players and a reliable defense are two vital ingredients in most championship seasons. Wagner has a third — knowing how to fix it when it breaks. It was a tough experience for everyone during the NEC’s 4 game losing streak en route to a 17-12 record (10-8 NEC) last year.

“From a leadership standpoint, I didn’t believe we had the composure we had in the conference,” Coburn admitted. “During the hardships we had to learn lessons, go back for the little details and the sharpness in those things.

We did not feel that our group lost confidence. “We just felt that the band needed to make sure that if they stayed true to the process, everything would fall into place.”

If everything goes right this season, it could be history-making.

2022-23 Wagner College

Women’s basketball program

November

7 – at Manhattan, 7 p.m

10 – at Iona, 7 p.m

13 – Brown, 5:30 p.m

16 – at Maryland-East. Beach, 6 pm

20 – at Fordham, 2 p.m

26 – Hofstra, 3 p.m

December

1 – St. Peter’s, 7 p.m

5 – at New Hampshire, 7 p.m

11 – at Syracuse, 2 p.m

17 – NJIT, 3 p.m

21 – at St. John’s, 2 p.m

January

2 – at St. Francis, Pa., 7 p.m.*

6 – Merrimack, 3 p.m.*

8 – LIU, 3 pm *

16 – at Merrimack, 4 p.m.*

19 – Stone Hill, 7 p.m. *

21 – at Central Connecticut, 1 p.m.*

26 – at St. Francis, New York, 7 p.m. *

February

2 – Sacred Heart, 7 pm *

4 – FDU, 3 pm *

9 – St. Francis, New York, 7 p.m.*

11 – at LIU, 2 p.m. *

16 – Central Connecticut, 7 p.m.*

18 – at FDU, 13:00 *

23 – Stone Hill, 6 p.m. *

25 – St. Francis, Pa., 3 p.m.*

March

2 – at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.*

6-9-12 – NEC Tournament


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