The Wolf Pack women’s basketball team wants in on its first NCAA Tournament bid.
Nevada’s aspirations in 2017 came down to the Mountain West Conference championship game. Those hopes were erased by Boise State guard A’Shanti Coleman, whose put-back layup at the buzzer secured back-to-back Mountain West Tournament titles and the team’s third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years.
The tough loss is nestled into the mind of senior guard Jade Redmon, who is itching at another shot at redemption.
[pullquote]We have the pieces, depth and leadership in place to give it another go this time around.”[/pullquote]“I think about it all the time,” Redmon said. “I’m just waiting for another chance so we can make it this time. And with the core we have right now, I like our chances.”
The program experienced immediate success under head coach Amanda Levens. Nevada recorded an impressive 19-win season, tied for the second-most in school history. The Pack tacked on two wins during the Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament and shattered previous school records in several statistical categories.
Levens has a full load to handle heading into her second season. Six freshman join the squad to fill the departures of four seniors, including All-Mountain West performer Teige Zeller and teammate T Moe.
The coach has sky-high expectations despite the Wolf Pack’s youthful roster.
“We’re a hungry bunch ready to compete,” Levens said. “There may be more of a learning curve this season but I don’t want the team to anticipate any persistent struggles. We have the pieces, depth and leadership in place to give it another go this time around.”
Junior guard Camariah King is becoming a leader on the court. King was third on the team with 9.6 points per game and saw plenty of playing time last season. She’s a prime example of the winning culture that the freshman class could look up to.
“I just need to hold them to the same standard as we were last year,” King said. “Overall, we need to communicate on the floor and have them buy into what we’re doing as a team.”
King carries that same role off the court, as well, the coach said.
“The freshman call her the mom of the team,” Levens said. “She’s a great motherly figure and she’s taken them under her wing and even invited them to her house. She’s much more than a player to them.”
Guard Da’Ja Hamilton headlines an intriguing freshman core. Born and raised in Rancho Cucamonga, California, Hamilton piled on the accolades during her time at Etiwanda High School, including three consecutive first team all-league selections. She also played AAU ball for Southern Cal Select and West Coast Premiere.
Hamilton has big shoes to fill, but she embraces the pressure and is poised to make an impact in the rotation. She’s expected to start the season behind behind junior guards Mikayla Christian and Sami Dinan.
“I’m ready to do whatever coach asks of me,” Hamilton said. “As a player, I can bring a lot to the court and help this team reach the next step and make it to the tournament.”
Facing four schools from Power Five conferences, the Wolf Pack will have plenty of competition, including three PAC-12 opponents in their first five games. The team follows non-conference play with an 18-game Mountain West schedule.
“We just have to play it one game at a time,” Levens said. “That’s the formula we stuck to last year and it worked out. It’s even more important this time with bigger schools coming to play, but it will make us better in the end.”
Nevada will host Utah for its regular season opener Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m
— Isaiah Burrows