Anticipation in the air at Lady Topper media day

The Lady Toppers recuperate in their locker room after their 87-74 loss to Baylor during the first round of the 2014 NCAA Divison I Women’s Basketball Championship at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas on Saturday. (Jeff Brown/HERALD)

Sean Robinson

Anticipation filled Diddle Arena on Tuesday as the Lady Toppers held their 2014 media day.

The women’s basketball team begins its 2014-15 season with an exhibition game against Bellarmine University on Nov. 7, followed by the first regular season game against Central Arkansas on Nov. 14.

This season marks Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s third year as head coach for the Lady Toppers, who are coming off a 24-9 season and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.


“I’m really excited about this group and about us going into the new season,” Heard said on Tuesday. “It’s really refreshing to have some veterans. With Alexis (Govan) and Chastity (Gooch) and Ileana (Johnson) leading the way. And of course, not to leave out Micah (Jones) and Kendall (Noble) and the rest of that group.”

With this season being the Lady Toppers’ first in Conference USA, a tough schedule awaits them as they play teams such as Ole Miss and Louisville in the coming months.

“There’s a ton of talent in this conference with some amazing coaches, and I’m excited about it,” Heard said. “I think we all are. We’re excited about the journey, excited about the opportunity to compete and to be in a new conference. I think Conference USA is an incredible conference, especially on the women’s side.”

The Lady Toppers have 10 returning players this season, including three seniors, and a fully healthy roster to boot.

Senior guard Alexis Govan, who averaged 16.5 points per game in 11 games last season, missed all of conference play due to a left tibia injury. She said on Tuesday she’s feeling 100 percent since her absence from the court last season.

“I’m just really excited to get to play with my teammates and be out here in front of a crowd,” Govan said. “It’s great that everybody’s healthy and that we get to start the year with a full roster. Everybody’s excited, everybody’s working, so it’s going to be great that everybody can start this off together.”

Senior forward Chastity Gooch, Preseason C-USA Player of the Year, and senior guard Ileana Johnson also have high hopes for the season, and feel comfortable in their new leadership roles as seniors.

“We’re all really close, we all get along really well,” Johnson said. “I think we’ll go on the court, and we’ll fight for each other, be there for each other and just go out and work hard together.”