Young Arkansas women’s basketball team motivated by early NCAA exit
FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas women’s basketball team had a momentous season that ended abruptly with a loss to Wright State in the first round of the NCAA tournament just six years ago. month.
Amber Ramirez said in a Zoom interview on Wednesday on the first official training day for the 2021-22 season that the loss was a big part of her motivation to return for her senior season.
“Obviously the way we finished last year was not the way we wanted to end,” said Ramirez, the only senior in this year’s roster. I know it was a great thing for me to come back.
âI think this year we’re going to come out even hungrier, just to prove that we belong in the NCAA tournament. And to show that we can race in the tournament.â
But this year’s Razorbacks squad will certainly look different with five real freshmen and transfer Sasha Goforth to the roster from last year’s veteran squad.
Arkansas coach Mike Neighbors said the atmosphere in training was good.
âIt’s a lot of fun right now,â said Neighbors. âNo more or less fun than some of these veteran teams, just the fact that there’s a rush, there’s a bright-eyed learning curve going on and it’s just a pleasure to be a part of.
“This team feels a little different. It’s a team that I think they look around as they look each other in the eye, they know that every day they get better.”
Ramirez and junior guard Makayla Daniels are the only returning starters, but even their roles will change a bit, Neighbors said, as both take on more leadership roles.
Erynn Barnum, a 6-2 junior redshirt from Little Rock, should see more playing time. She played every game a year ago, averaging 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game in 16 minutes of action.
“I know I’ve been a bit of a role player.â¦ I think I have to have a great season and help my teammates. I’m experienced now. I see a difference in my role.”
Junior Marquesha Davis is another who should also see an expanded role. The 6-0 Springdale graduate played 12 minutes per game off the bench last season, but improved her jumping shot in the offseason, Neighbors said.
Last year’s team have been nationally ranked all season, but Neighbors knows the Razorbacks likely won’t see many preseason accolades this time around. And that suits him very well.
âI think they’re going to surprise people who are just looking at who graduated and who you come back and things like that,â Neighbors said. âIn women’s basketball, that’s so much what the preseason magazines do and the preseason polls that I’m a voter in one of them do.
“And I do. I’m not saying it’s wrong or indifferent. It’s just like that. I see why people might think we graduated – they’re great players. I agree with all that.”
Jersey Wolfenbarger, a 6-5 freshman from Fort Smith Northside, could have a significant impact, Neighbors said.
“She knows we’re going to be counted on,” Neighbors said. “I think she knows her role will be very formidable.”
Wolfenbarger, a McDonald’s All-American, had a different basketball experience over the summer as part of the USA team, which won a gold medal at the Under-19 World Cup in Hungary. Neighbors said
Because of its long summer, neighbors said they would limit Wolfenbarger’s representatives. She did not train on Wednesday.
Redshirt rookie Elauna Eaton, another Arkansan, was sidelined last year with a knee injury but comes back and has a few minutes’ opportunity, Neighbors said.
The status of Maryam Dauda, ââa 6-4 rookie from Bentonville, for the upcoming season is still unknown, Neighbors said. Dauda, ââanother McDonald’s All American, initially signed with Baylor but opted to be transferred to Arkansas after coach Kim Mulkey left for LSU.
Dauda had said she would likely wear a red shirt as she is still recovering from a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee suffered during her last season in high school.
But the neighbors said it was not 100%.
âIf Maryam’s knee continues to heal as quickly as it has since been on our campus, then we won’t rule anything out,â Neighbors said. “We’ll leave that to her and the doctors to decide that, but she’s there every day to workâ¦ we’ll let her listen to her body.”
Neighbors said rookie Ashlyn Sage, a 6-2 guard from Weatherford, Oklahoma, was “in bad weather” and did not practice Wednesday, while Samara Spencer, a 5-9 freshman of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was limited in practice after twisting his ankle earlier.
No more news
Arkansas Women’s Basketball Team 2021-22
No.; Player; Pos.; Cl; Ht. HS / College
1; Marquesha Davis; G; Jr.; 6-0; Springdale High School
2; Samara Spencer; G; Fr.; 5-9; St. Thomas Aquinas High School
3; Elauna Eaton; G; RFr.; 6-0; Nettleton High School
4; Erynn Barnum; F; RJr.; 6-2; Little Rock Central High School
11; Rylee Langerman; G; So.; 5-9; Christian Heritage High School
13; Sasha Goforth; G; So.; 6-1; Fayetteville High School / Oregon State
15; Ashlyn Sage; G; Fr.; 6-2; Weatherford High School
22; Avery Hughes; G; Jr.; 5-7; Bentonville High School
23; Amber Ramirez; G; RSr.; 5-9; Wagner / TCU High School
24; Jersey Wolfenbarger; G / F; 6-5; Fort Smith Northside High School
25; Destiny Oberg; F; Jr.; 6-3; Academy of the Holy Angels
30; Maryam Dauda; F; Fr.; 6-4; LycÃ©e de Bentonville
43; Makayla Daniels; G; Jr.; 5-9; Frederick High School
55; Emrie Ellis; F; Fr.; 6-3; LycÃ©e Vanoss