Take two: The USF women’s basketball team only won four games last year in coach Jennifer Azzi’s first season

Take two: The USF women’s basketball team only won four games last year in coach Jennifer Azzi’s first season

University of San Francisco women's basketball coach Azzi relying on young talent

Times have been tough recently for the USF women’s basketball team, but an infusion to young talent and a change in mindset has coach Jennifer Azzi confident this season will be different.

“[There is] more of a clear focus,” Azzi said. “The players that are here want to be here and they have more of our mindset.”

The Dons finished eighth in the West Coast Conference last season and were selected to finish ninth in this season’s preseason poll.

“The best thing we can do is not pay attention to any of that,” she said. “The program was pretty down and the thing I’m the most proud of is our returning players saying we want to do something there.”

Azzi, who is in her second year as coach, brought in her first recruiting class, which was highlighted by Colorado Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year Jamie Katuna.

“Our freshmen have overall raised our level,” Azzi said. “They’re starting to understand the offense. They’re starting to understand working together, so it’s really exciting to have them.”

Katuna, along with fellow freshmen Taj Winston, Aundrea Gordon and Alicia Scafidi, attended summer school at USF and practiced with their new teammates.

“They worked out and I think knew what to expect based on our workouts,” Azzi said. “They’re freshmen in every sense of the word, except I think their bodies were a little more prepared by being here in the summer.”

Katuna averaged 23.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and four assists in her final season at Longmont High School (Colo.), and that scoring is something San Francisco needs.

The Dons struggled offensively last season, with no players averaging double-figures and only tallying 60 points per game as a team.

“We have our core group, but I think their roles will continue to develop, especially with the freshmen,” Azzi said.

Two returning players Azzi will be relying heavily on are seniors Rheina Ale and Vania Singleterry. The combo combined for 14 points and seven rebounds last season.

<p>“They’ve both come back wanting to make a change,” Azzi said. “They’ve lost here for three years and are tired of it. They’ve worked very hard.”

The Dons’ nonconference schedule offers some tough games, including matchups against Florida and at Colorado.

“We have some tough games,” Azzi said. “We definitely have a challenging preseason, and for us, playing against teams like that is just to learn from it.”

The Dons already have their starting lineup determined and it includes Ale, Katy Keating, Mel Khlok, Whitney Daniels and Singleterry.

USF breakdown

COACH: Jennifer Azzi, second year

LAST YEAR: 4-25 overall, 1-13 in West Coast Conference play

KEY PLAYERS: Guard Rheina Ale (6.8 points per game), Guard Vania Singleterry (7.3 ppg)

OPENER: Friday, vs. Cal State Northridge, 3 p.m.

WCC OPENER: Dec. 29, vs. Pepperdine, 7 p.m.

basketballcollegeCollege Sportssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A screenshot from SFPD body worn camera
New videos show police shooting man armed with knife, frying pan

Police say Antonio Estrada set fire to apartment building before shooting

Dr. Grant Colfax, director of the Department of Public Health, said he expected San Francisco to enter the purple tier within days.
Chris Victorio/Special to S.F. Examiner
SF still in the red but expects move into purple tier ‘some time soon’

Four more counties moved into highest COVID-19 risk category by state

The area near the Castro Muni Metro Station is expected to be affected by construction work on the Twin Peaks Tunnel, with lane closures on Market Street and some loss of parking. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Construction on Twin Peaks Tunnel to begin November 30

Area around Castro Muni Station will see greatest impacts including lane closures on Market Street

Cal Junior Quarterback Chase Garbers completed 28 of 42 passes 315 yards and three touchdowns and two interceptions in his last game against Oregon State. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
The Big Game: Stanford at Cal

What: The 123rd Big Game When: Friday, 1:30 p.m. Where: Memorial Stadium,… Continue reading

Most Read