BYU women’s basketball hosts annual media day

The 2016-17 BYU women's basketball team poses for a photo at media day. (Ari Davis)
The 2016-17 BYU women’s basketball team poses for a photo at media day. (Ari Davis)

BYU women’s basketball held its annual media day in the Marriott Center on Oct. 19 to discuss the Cougars’ upcoming season.

The event gave media the first opportunity to talk to the 2016-17 Cougars about their goals after coming off a WCC regular season title last year.

BYU lost leading scorer Lexi Eaton Rydalch and point guard Kylie Maeda. Head coach Jeff Judkins said replacing those two will be a team effort.

“Everyone has to step it up a notch,” Judkins said. “It’s not one person, it’s all of them.”

Judkins said junior Cassie Broadhead will likely start as point guard this season. Broadhead seldom played point guard in high school, but has practiced the position with Maeda.

The transition to point guard was easy for Broadhead. The only change she’s made is becoming a vocal leader.

“I make sure everyone is in their spots and calling plays. Learning the strategy of the game more is another thing that has changed,” Broadhead said. “The way I play isn’t different, but the way I think and getting the right plays at the right times is what has changed the most.”

Another prospect for point guard is freshman Brenna Chase.

Chase is an intriguing offensive threat for Judkins’ Cougars.

“Brenna’s a great three-point shooter,” senior Makenzi Pulsipher said. “And she can drive the ball well.”

Judkins also had high praise for Chase, calling her perhaps the “best freshman” he’s seen in a long time.

Fans should also expect to see Kalani Purcell on the court, who is working on transitioning from playing the No. 4 spot to the No. 3 spot.

“She’s so good with the ball that it doesn’t affect her game,” Judkins said of the switch.

Purcell is expected to shoulder more of the offensive load for the Cougars.

“I have to show up every game,” Purcell said. “I need to be able to put numbers up. I have to score.”

Pulsipher will be helping Purcell offensively. Pulsipher is now the first option in the Cougar offense. Last season, she averaged 12.7 points per game on 37 percent shooting. Senior Kristine Nielson described Pulsipher as a “money sharp shooter.”

The Cougars have big goals for the upcoming campaign. Judkins and his squad aim to win both the West Coast Conference regular season and conference tournament. BYU has yet to win both in the same year. The team also wants to make the NCAA tournament again.

Every year the coaches must rebuild or reload. This season’s squad is young, but has size and speed to its advantage. Pulsipher said the Cougars will be better because they’re more balanced.

“We won’t be a team that relies on one person, like maybe in the past,” Pulsipher said. “This year, we have weapons on every area, so we won’t need to rely on that one person.”

Broadhead echoed Pulsipher’s sentiments.

“I think this year we’re so balanced,” Broadhead said. “We have so many different threats.”

The BYU women’s basketball team begins its season against Westminster on Nov. 2.

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