The BYU women’s basketball team calls its recently announced non-conference schedule “challenging.” Filled with opponents like Oregon State, CS Northridge and South Dakota State, the schedule may live up to the term.
“We are going to be playing a lot of hard games this year,” said BYU head coach Jeff Judkins. “I think we have a great balance of in-state games as well as teams from very tough conferences in the Pac-12 and MWC.”
Of their thirteen opponents in the schedule, eight participated in post-season play last year, including South Dakota State, which advanced to the semifinals of the WNIT.
Out of these teams, Judkins mentioned South Dakota State and Oregon State as games that will prove his team.
“Last year we played SDS at home, but now we’ll have to go play at their place, which will be much more difficult,” Judkins said. “They’re a team that advanced far in the postseason last year. And we’ll have to face Oregon State away from home, and they will likely be in the top 25 to start the season.”
According to senior guard Ashley Garfield, it’s more than just the strength of opponents that will challenge the Cougars, but the travelling as well.
“Travelling will be a factor,” Garfield said. “Last year we didn’t have to go out so far, but this season we will be going to play at South Dakota State as well as the Tom Westin Invitational in Hawaii, where we’ll get to face Butler and Oregon State.”
To end non-conference play the Cougars will play on the road against Utah and Utah State, Utah handing the Cougars their lone loss in a 12-1 start to the season last year.
However, despite such a demanding start to the season, Judkins is confident his players can rise to the challenge and make a difference.
“Morgan Bailey, Lexi Eaton, Ashley Garfield and others will all have to step up to ensure the beginning of our season goes well,” Judkins said.
After last season the team lost key players in Kim Beeston and Jennifer Hamson (whom the Los Angeles Sparks selected in the WNBA Draft). But again, Judkins assured that this team has what it takes to play well together.
“Losing Jennifer and Kim is significant to our team,” Judkins said. “But our team is confident that we can execute and play together. We’ll have a different team this year, but we’ll be quicker and be able to press. Things will be a little different.”
The Cougars will open the 2014–2015 season at South Dakota State on Friday, Nov. 14.