By Sarah Olender

You could blame COVID, you could blame the inconsistency of the season, you could blame it on a variety of outside variables, but the fact is that the Northeastern women’s basketball team did not play to their full potential in the 2020-2021 season. 

The team had the talent and the experience which is reflected in many statistics, but something last year didn’t click. 

Most of their losses last year came with a small point differential between them and their opponent. Even though they ended the season with a losing 7-10 record, the effort and skill was there, it just wasn’t harnessed to play to its full potential. 

This year, as the team takes the court again, they’re looking forward to a 29 game regular season, and hoping to advance further into the postseason than they have in previous years. 

This season brings four freshman faces, all of whom will be expected to take big roles and fill the shoes of Mide Oriyomi, Stella Clark, and Ayanna Dublin, three of last season’s starting five, who have all left or graduated from Northeastern. 

Oriyomi, who was the second leading scorer for the Huskies, made a transfer to Purdue, and Clark, NU’s top scorer, graduated last season, leaving behind big shoes that the remaining team and fresh faces will have to fill. While both will leave big shoes to fill from an offensive perspective, the two also will be sorely missed defensively, as they both were highly effective with that skill set too. 

Luckily, this year’s roster additions will bring a new perspective and some young talent to a disconnected Husky team that needs a fresh start. 

The Huskies are excited to welcome Camille Clement, an accurate and consistent shooter, the hardworking Gemima Motema, the defensive force to be reckoned with, Asha Parker, and the jack-of-all-trades, Claudia Soriano (really a jack-of-all-trades because she also plays the saxophone so I’ve heard).

The fantastic four bring a copious amount of basketball talent and intelligence to the team. While all are extremely skilled on their own, time will only tell how they gel together as teammates. Luckily, Motema and Clement have already been teammates throughout high school, both playing together on a club team in Maine.  

Emily Calabrese also joins the Husky squad this year from St. Bonaventure. The 6’0” graduate transfer will be a valuable addition to the team as she has four years of college basketball experience under her belt and was a star player for the Bonnies.

In addition to bringing in the new players, Northeastern also welcomes a new coaching staff. Bridgette Mitchell, the new head coach, comes to Northeastern after spending two seasons at Pittsburgh and was recognized as a skilled recruiter, something that will help the Husky team in seasons to come. Her assistant coach, Keturah Jackson, was a teammate of Mitchell’s at Duke from 2006-2010, and has extensive coaching experience. The other assistant coach, Alex Varlan, joined Mitchell’s coaching staff this fall and has an impressive basketball resume, as he played through college and worked behind the scenes post-grad.

The three new coaches will bring a fresh perspective to a team that needs a bit of a change up.

While there are plenty of new faces between the players and coaching staff, there are still some core leaders on the team. Kendall Currence returns to the court for her senior season as a fundamental member of the Husky pack.

With a .441 FG percentage last season and her skilled defensive skills, she is a threat whenever the ball is in her possession. Currence was the third-leading scorer for the Huskies last season, and looks to be a leader again this season and beyond. Her CAA experience will help guide the new members, and perhaps even the coaches, this season. 

Maddie Vizza is another strong returning player for the Huskies. Last year she played in all 20 games, starting 13, and being one of the most accurate shooters on the team with a .435 FG percentage and made the CAA all-rookie team last year. 

The Huskies are in for a challenge this season. In the CAA preseason poll, Northeastern was ranked last, with Drexel and Delaware tying as the predicted winner of the conference this year. Coming in second place was JMU, who recently withdrew from the conference, but will still play the Huskies on Jan. 30. 

This year will definitely be a year of growth, but also a year of uncertainty. The team has a lot of talent and skill, but their lack of experience working together as a unit is a massive question mark on any scouting report that has come out in the preseason. Hopefully the Huskies are able to reign in their talent and skill in time to gel together and advance through the postseason. 

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