New faces, same expectations: reviewing the women’s basketball season

Riley Glenn

Coming off a deep run in the NCAA tournament, the Texas Longhorns women’s basketball team will face a lot of turnover heading into Vic Schaefer’s second year as head coach. 

Junior forward Charli Collier, leading scorer and rebounder from the 2020-21 team, declared for the WNBA and went first overall in the draft to the Dallas Wings. Second leading scorer Celeste Taylor, a sophomore guard, left the program as well. 

With few returning rotation players and a daunting non conference schedule, this young but talented team might experience growing pains as they work to meet their potential.

Junior guards Audrey Warren and Joanne Allen-Taylor highlight key returning players who will serve as the leaders of the team. Warren averaged 10.3 points per game last season, and was one of the team’s best 3-point shooters, as she shot 40% from three. 

Taylor led the Longhorns in minutes last year, averaging 12 points per game along with 2.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Toward the end of the season, the guard really elevated her play, allowing for the team to come together on its Elite Eight run. 

“I couldn’t take her off the floor,” Schaefer said. “For her to do what she’s doing at an elite level as a player, she was our leading scorer for our last five games of the season.”

Other key returning players are sophomore forward DeYona Gaston and senior center Lauren Ebo. Gaston averaged 6.6 points per game and 4.7 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game, while Ebo averaged 4.7 points per game and 4.4 rebounds in 17.8 minutes per game. Both will look to expand their roles as veterans on the roster. 

The Longhorns were able to add a multitude of talented players through their star-studded recruiting class. Five-star recruit Aaliyah Moore, a 6’1” forward from Moore, Oklahoma, was a high-priority recruit due to her versatility, athleticism and physicality in the paint. Another five-star recruit, Rori Harmon, a 5’6” point guard from Houston, is lightning quick and can score at all three levels. 

Fellow recruits Kyndall Hunter, a 5’8” point guard and high school teammate of Harmon, as well as Latasha Lattimore, a 6’4” forward from Toronto, will look to crack into a rotation with open minutes. The addition of seven new players to the roster will allow for the rotation to have more depth in comparison to last season’s team, which went six or seven deep regularly. 

“We recruit to a fit, we retain our student athletes and we develop them,” Schaefer said. “It’s not a secret. It’s just what we do.”  

The Longhorns will face a legion of difficult opponents in their non conference schedule. On Nov. 14, the Longhorns will travel to Palo Alto to face the 2021 NCAA champion Stanford Cardinals, who return four of five starters from last season. 

They will also face Tennessee and A&M on the road, as well as a neutral site game against Arizona, who fell to Stanford in the championship game. Schaefer said the difficult non conference schedule will help his young team prepare for conference play. 

“If that doesn’t get your attention as a player, you ain’t got a pulse,” Schaefer said. “We did it for a reason: It’ll get us ready. I’m excited to see our kids in that environment.”