Lady Toppers preview upcoming 2022-2023 season at first official practice

Head+Coach+Greg+Collins+addresses+his+team+during+the+first+official+practice+of+the+Lady+Toppers+2022-2023+regular+season+Sept.+26+at+Diddle+Arena.

Seth Daniel

Head Coach Greg Collins addresses his team during the first official practice of the Lady Toppers 2022-2023 regular season Sept. 26 at Diddle Arena.

Seth Daniel, Sports Reporter

The Lady Toppers held their first official practice Tuesday afternoon in Diddle Arena, previewing the program’s 2022-23 season.

The Lady Toppers will embark on their 2022-23 slate without three components to last year’s squad – Jenna Walker, Selma Kulo and most importantly star senior Meral Abdelgagwad. 

In her senior campaign, Abdlegawad led the Hilltoppers in points, rebounds and assists, serving as a huge part of the Hilltoppers success.

“We miss Meral’s energy in practice,” Collins said. “She always practiced so hard, but the good thing is that we have a bunch of young ladies that really compete. Our competition level has gone up. I think everyday in practice they go at each other in a positive way. We really miss Meral because she was going to compete every day like it was the conference championship.”

The Lady Toppers led all of Conference USA in scoring last season and had one of the highest scoring offenses in the country. Collins said he thinks the offense will still score a lot of points, but the defense is where he focused most of his time this offseason.

“We like to get up and down the floor and that’s why we led the league in scoring last season. Another big thing is really adding some strength in the weight room,” Collins said. “We want to be a better rebounding team, trying to increase our strength and durability.”

Collin’s squad will need to incorporate new faces to the team to establish solid chemistry.

The Lady Toppers welcomed five newcomers over the offseason. Three freshmen guards, Josie Gilvin from Louisville, Karris Allen from Sikeston, Missouri, and Acacia Hayes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and two  players from the transfer portal in redshirt junior guard Ailyah Pitts from the University of Virginia and 6-foot-2 junior center Odeth Betancourt from the University of South Florida.

The Lady Toppers kick off the season by hosting Vanderbilt on Nov. 7. The next week, they travel to take on SEC opponent Missouri on Nov. 14th. The Lady Toppers host Little Rock on Dec. 11th before kicking off a three-game road trip with games at Indiana State, Cal Baptist and ending with their first C-USA game at Rice on Dec. 29th. 

WKU then hosts rival Middle Tennessee State on New Year’s Eve to close out December. The Lady Toppers then travel to North Texas on Jan 5th before hosting UTSA on Jan. 7th and UAB Jan. 11th. WKU then takes a road trip to Florida, playing Florida International Jan. 14th and Florida Atlantic on Jan. 16th. Louisiana Tech comes to Bowling Green on Jan. 19th before the red and white travels to Charlotte on Jan 21st. 

FIU and FAU come to Bowling Green on Jan. 26 and 28 before the Lady Toppers begin a three-game road trip facing UTSA and UTEP on Feb. 2 and 4 and Middle Tennessee on Feb. 9.

WKU then hosts Charlotte on Feb. 16 and Rice Feb. 18 before going on one final road trip to Louisiana Tech on Feb. 23 and UAB Feb. 25. The Lady Toppers close out the season by hosting UTEP and North Texas on March  2 and 4. The C-USA tournament will be held in Frisco, Texas, March 8-11.

The Lady Toppers will play their first exhibition game against Lindsey Wilson College at Diddle Arena on Nov. 1.

 

Sports reporter Seth Daniel can be reached at [email protected]