LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, PA - The Lincoln University women’s basketball team is coming off a record-setting season in which the Lions were nationally ranked for the first time in its Division II history and established a school record with 26 victories.
However, the primary question on the tips of everyone’s tongue as the Lincoln University women’s basketball team embarks on the 2020-21 season is how do they replace All-American Kwanza Murray?
Murray averaged 18.3 points per game on 44 percent shooting en route to being named the CIAA Player of the Year. However, the Lions aren’t looking to just replace Murray, they must replace three of their top four scorers from a season ago.
“She is tough to replace, honestly. What she came and did here at Lincoln is unheard of,” said Lincoln University head women’s basketball coach Darrell Mosley. “We appreciate what she did; she set the foundation, work ethic wise. This year we will replace her efforts, her contributions with multiple people.”
If someone has the resume to reload, instead of rebuild, it's Mosley - the reigning CIAA Coach of the Year. He was also a finalist for the WhoopDirt.Com NCAA DII Women's Basketball Coach of the Year.
In all only 20 percent of the team’s scoring will be suiting up this season.
One thing is clear, the replacement won’t be found in one player. And that replacement might not have been on the team a season ago.
Lincoln brought in seven newcomers, four from the Division I ranks, a pair of Division II transfers and a high school point guard with a couple state championships to her resume.
While the Lions will be without a pair of scoring guards, Lincoln should be a deeper team offensively – thus more dangerous for opposing teams.
“I feel like this team is much deeper offensively,” said Mosley. “I feel like last year we were stuck playing six, seven deep. This year, we are 10, 12 strong. It’s a matter of who will earn those minutes.”
“We have more talented guards that can do a lot with the ball,” said Mosley. “I felt last year, we kind of played between the two guards and everybody else were just spot-up shooters and role players.
Senior Bryanna Brown (New York, N.Y/Bishop Loughlin) is the top returning offensive threat with 7.4 points per game while shooting 37.8 percent from the floor. Her 31 three-pointers were third on the team and the most of any returning player.
Other returners in the backcourt include senior Taylor King (Lorton, Va./Hayfield Secondary) and junior Shakira Edwards (Newark, N.J./Bloomfield Tech). King played in all 29 games in a reserve role, while Edwards appeared in 15 games. After missing all of last season, redshirt senior Kendra Stanford (Philadelphia, Pa./William Bodine), a Lock Haven transfer, should be ready to contribute.
Three Division I transfers, junior Jade Young (Philadelphia, Pa./Abington Friends/Hartford), junior Kania Pollack (Queens, N.Y./The Mary Louis Academy/Manhattan), and junior Briyanah Richardson (New Brunswick, N.J./Matawan Regional/Saint Peter’s), will be called upon to provide to the backcourt.
The lone freshman of the class, Jalessa Lanier (Easton, Pa./Bethlehem Catholic), a noted winner in high school, could also find her place in the Lions’ rotation.
“We are definitely leaning on them to go get us boards, offensive putbacks,” said Mosley. “Most importantly clog that paint, be the force in the paint and being the bodyguards on the court - protecting their teammates, calling out screens.”
While a lot of focus turns to the offensive production lost in Murray and DeAshia Young, at their core the Lincoln University women’s basketball team is a defensive-minded bunch. The Lions were third in the CIAA in defense and wants to lead the league this season.
As a defensive-minded coach, Mosley’s team will want to dictate the tempo with their defensive pressure.
“We always go into every game, game planning how we are going to guard,” said Mosley. “I like to control tempo, speed them up and that creates our offense. We led the conference in scoring last year, not because Kwanza Murray was hot in a lot of games, but we dictated where you were going to be on the floor. We trapped, got a lot of steals, and scored in transition.”
With the team looking to meld six transfers and one freshman into the mix, the time in the Lincoln bubble could pay huge dividends for the Lions.
“We knew we were losing a lot of offense, a lot of bodies, so we went the transfer route this year,” said Mosley. “Being in the bubble has paid dividends for us because the team has been together. Living in the same wing and they are spending a lot of time with each other. Collectively, we have a really good group. We have high character, and good character with good basketball players are a good sign.”