CHARLOTTE, NC (WFXR) — Despite having to fill the shoes of Aisha Sheppard, Virginia Tech women’s basketball has high expectations for the upcoming season, which begins in less than four weeks.
The Hokies are coming off a one-and-done performance in this year’s NCAA tournament, losing to Florida Gulf Coast in the first round despite an otherwise successful season, going 23-10 overall and winning 13 conference contests.
“I think we know what we are capable of and so is everyone else,” Virginia Tech junior guard Georgia Amoore said. “Just not letting the pressure get to us. I think pressure is a privilege and we have that privilege right now. We are taking every practice and every game one at a time.”
This year, VT welcomes Ashley Owusu from Maryland and Clara Ford from Boston College. Both are expected to contribute significantly this season and that adds excitement for the Hokies ahead of their season opener on November 7 against Mount St. Mary’s at Cassell Coliseum.
“It is really comforting to know that we do not have to rely on a certain two people or one person or whatever,” Virginia Tech senior center Elizabeth Kitley said. “We do have a lot of people who can step up and to provide that spark off of the bench. We have a lot of options there you know one through five in the starting line-up. It is awesome.”
Meanwhile, Virginia is flying under the radar with new head coach Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton taking the reins after Tina Thompson was let go at the end of last season. Coach Mox says that while this may be a rebuilding year for the program, she still has high expectations for her players.
“I tell them everyday progress is the process. That is what practice is for so I want us to continue to get better at every practice,” Agugua-Hamilton said. “There are days where we are not having the best days, things like that or we are not having the best day. For the most part, I love practice. They bring energy. Everyone that walks around in JPJ and they say ‘Man, we can hear you guys practicing and there is an enthusiasm as to what you guys are doing and a passion about what you are doing.’ So it has been good.”
One of the new pieces that the Cavaliers are bringing is a familiar face to the area. Sam Brunelle returns to Charlottesville after the William Monroe graduate spent three seasons playing for Notre Dame.
“A big reason why I wanted to come back for one I wanted to go into education,” Brunelle said. “Notre Dame didn’t have an education program and I wanted to come back closer to home. I was a big home body growing up. I knew I wanted to come closer to home. I didn’t know if it was going to be 20 minutes or four hours in the journey time. The funny thing is UVa was the first school as an official visit while I was in the transfer portal and I committed that weekend I was there.”
Virginia opens the season at home against George Washington on November 7.