Panthers hungry for upcoming season

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  • Cynthia Wolf is interviewed by NI sports editor David Warrington during the player availability portion of media day this past Thursday.

  • UNI women’s basketball Head Coach Tanya Warren spoke to the media during women’s basketball’s annual media day last Thursday.

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ADAM JOHNSON, Sports Writer

It’s hard to believe, but basketball is officially back, and on the women’s side, that meant it was time for media day. Last year the Panthers had a great season, going 23-11 overall, with a conference record of 13-5. This season was good enough to get them third place in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), and they even made it to the conference tournament championship game where they would ultimately lose to Illinois State. It was a great season last year, and without a doubt they will want to continue that trend this season. On media day, which was Thursday, Oct. 27, the media got to hear from Head Coach Tanya Warren on the season ahead.

Warren is going into her 16th season here at UNI. She has had plenty of success, having 177 conference wins and 283 career victories up to this point. Warren started the press conference off by saying that it has been a “fun start to practice.” She has liked a lot of what she has seen from her team so far in the early going. She also had a ton of great praise for players on the roster. 

She started off by saying, “We will be led by Grace Boffeli.” Boffeli is going to be a sophomore this season, and is coming off of a season where she received honorable mention all conference recognition, so this is no surprise. She talked about players like Cynthia Wolf, Kam Finley and Emerson Green, who all impressed her throughout the offseason. They all made developments to their game that were much needed. 

She then went on to talk about starting point guard Maya McDermott. McDermott is a great talent, but has been behind an all conference player for the last two seasons, meaning this year is finally her chance to be the starting point guard. Warren said, “She has waited,” and took it a step further in saying, “This is Maya’s team.” She expects great things and has been impressed thus far. Warren also made it clear that she expects every player to get minutes and make an impact on the team.

Following talk about the players, Warren addressed the schedule that they have this season. The non-conference is highlighted by games against No. 8 Iowa State, No. 21 Creighton, No. 23 South Dakota State and No. 4 Iowa. The Panthers have a great non-conference schedule. About conference play, Warren said, “It is really good this year.” The schedule is going to be tough, but that is the way that they like it. Later in the presser, she even said that she believes that the conference is a multi-bid league for the postseason, and that could be shown even more with the additions of UIC, Murray State and Belmont. 

With the tough schedule, a question regarding the new look of the roster came up, and what expectations might look like. Warren said, “This team does look different, but you know what, our expectations are the same.” These expectations are ultimately to get better throughout the season, and make their way into the postseason.

When the presser was nearing its end, a question came up about preseason rankings, and Warren said, “It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s all about where you finish.” She also noted that the returning players feel like there’s some unfinished business from last year, “They’re hungry.”

The Panthers are undoubtedly ready for the season ahead, and they do not have to wait much longer. UNI opens the regular season at home against St. Thomas on Monday, Nov. 7.