By Jamison Schroeder
The 2019-20 Cleveland State University women’s basketball season is quickly approaching as the players prepare to get going in December. After a tough loss in last year’s quarterfinals of the Horizon League tournament against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, the Vikings are looking to bounce back strong with three of their top four scorers from last year returning, and the team has high expectations. Junior guard Mariah White has high hopes for the season and hopes to help carry the Vikings deep into the postseason.
“The team’s goal is to hang a banner, and in order to do that, our mindset remains on winning the Horizon League with hopes of playing in the NCAA tournament,” White said.
Outside of having an impressive season last year, a few players managed to procure some preseason accolades before the new season. Senior guard Mariah Miller and sophomore forward Savanna Crockett earned their way onto the Horizon League’s Preseason Second Team, due to their performances last season.
Crockett also earned the honor of Freshman of the Year last season, the third Viking all-time to earn the Horizon League women’s basketball award. The Vikings also return eight letter winners from last season, which leads the way for the rest of the team, including the offense machine in Miller and defensive threat White, who hopes to be a facilitator on the court and a lockdown defender this year.
With familiar faces comes familiar territory as, for the third time in four years, the Vikings will be opening up the season in their home territory with the first exhibition game against Ursuline University on Oct. 31, which Cleveland State won 93-50. White thinks that it was good for the team to have their first game of the season at home.
“I do think it’s an advantage; it’s a comfort zone,” White said. “We get the first game jitters out at home rather than on the road.”
The 2019-20 Vikings are a relatively young team with four freshmen on the team this year. One of the new faces is freshman guard Julia Hintz, who has high hopes for the team.
“Everyone is coming together a lot more,” Hintz said. “Coach is bringing an incredible culture to the team.”
Hintz hopes to help the team out in her own way.
“I hope to bring positive energy to this team, plan to always keep my attitude up and help keep others up as well,” she said.
The Vikings were tabbed to finish seventh in the preseason conference polls; however, both Hintz and White agreed that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“It is always better to come in as the underdog,” Hintz said. “You don’t want to be on top and get struck by someone on the bottom. It gives us more motivation to work harder every single day.”
“It goes back to what we are most excited about, proving people wrong,” White said. “Nobody wants to be ranked 7th, and we have a lot to prove this year to people, but it’s exciting.”
As the team gets set to face off against Bowling Green State University on Nov. 6, they’re holding their heads up high as the coaching staff prepares the women’s team for what could be an impressive season.