It was almost as if somebody new and important walked into Matt Daniel’s office and said, “Do something, man!”
Arkansas State Women’s Basketball ingloriously concluded last season by losing ten straight games, followed by star player Jada Stinson announcing that she was outta here. Stinson’s loss was no big deal – she was just the team’s leader in points, assists and free throws. Also bailing, scorer Peyton Martin, who averaged more than 11 points.
The women’s team was already in transformation before these two athletes decided to transfer. Daniel had signed six new players in November. But what the team needed was experience and fire power. Daniels found those qualities in the magic transfer portal.
Three athletes have joined the roster via transfer: three-point sharp shooter Devyn Lowe from South Alabama, 6’3″ forward Ola Makurat from Utah, and Keya Patton who averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds at Auburn.
“These additions to the six we signed in the early period, coupled with the hungry returners we have on our roster, have me excited about the brand of basketball we will be able to play moving forward.”Red Wolves Women’s Basketball Head Coach Matt Daniel
Daniel enters the 2021-22 season with a reshaped roster with new faces and “hungry” returners. Over on the men’s side, head coach Mike Balado is standing pat. Nearly everyone returns from last season’s roster, including Marquis Eaton, who takes advantage of COVID exemptions to play an additional year. Re-joining Eaton are a number of athletes that have shown extraordinary promise, such as Nicaraguan sensation Norchad Omier and emerging star Caleb Fields.
“It’s exciting because it’s the same group and you’re talking to guys that know your terminology You don’t have to start from the ground up. It’s like reading a book – we’re starting on chapter 15, but we already know what happened chapters 1-14.”Red Wolves Men’s Head Basketball Coach Mike Balado
Unlike the vast majority of basketball programs across the nation, The Red Wolves remained spotless of transfer attrition. It’s like everybody including Bradley Cooper deciding to comeback for Hangover 3! However, this is the same roster that went 11-13 last season, posting a fifth straight year without a winning record for Balado. The impulse to shrug is staggering.
But if you watched last year’s version of the team, you had to like what you saw on the floor. Omier is a double-double superstar, Fields is a threat from any point on the floor, and the young roster can only become better guided by Eaton’s well-practiced hand. If ever were to come Balado’s make-it or break-it year, this is absolutely it.
One coach as re-tooled his roster. The other is launching a sequel. Fans have both on a very short leash. A new athletic director watches with arms pensively crossed. It should be quite a year.