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MSU Women’s Hoops: What Can We Expect?

Mississippi State women’s basketball was looking to get back on track this year. Now, in the midst of a head coaching change, what can MSU fans expect out of this talented young team?

This past week, several were shocked by the announcement that Head Coach Nikki McCray-Penson was stepping down from her role to focus on her health.

MSU fans wish her nothing but the best and a speedy recovery, but the women’s basketball season will not be holding off and there's a lot to look ahead to.

The program announced that associate head coach Doug Novak will be taking the reins as Athletic Director John Cohen looks for a replacement. This obviously shakes things up for the Bulldogs, who were looking to have a bounce-back season with what, in essence, is an almost completely new roster.

Coming into the season, the team’s future was already uncertain. It is difficult to have any kind of inclination as to how this team was going to perform anyway with so many new faces on the court, much less the sideline. Now, with Novak at the helm, this MSU squad could realistically end up anywhere.

The chances are, though, that Bulldog fans will be having flashbacks to last season a lot this year, and it’s really nobody’s fault.

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On the bright side, MSU does have a lot of talent on this roster. Myah Taylor has anchored the point guard spot for the last couple seasons, and she will be returning for redshirt senior season. She boasts 9.9 points per game over the course of last season to go with 4.1 assists per game.

Rickea Jackson, arguably the best athlete on the team, also returns this year after receiving WCBA All American Honorable mention last season. All signs pointed to her having a huge year for the Bulldogs, especially with her leading the team in points per game for her past two seasons. Whether Novak intends to use the talented forward the same way, though, is still up in the air.

In terms of returning players, however, Jessika Carter is the big name circled on the roster. Carter was a force to be reckoned with in the post this past season, leading the team in rebounds and blocks, all while pouring in 14.3 points per game and, depending on the matchup, being the number one scoring option herself for the Bulldogs. Carter is the veteran leader on this team, and if she plays well, the rest of the team tends to follow suit.

In terms of transfers, MSU was as active as possible in the portal this past offseason. This particular transfer class home run was when Coach NMP and staff managed to recruit the Hayes triplets to Starkville from Middle Tennessee in Murfreesboro. Obviously, adding three new faces to the team is always a plus, but to think that these three players don’t have chemistry with each other already would be a sin in and of itself. It will be interesting to see if that chemistry transitions to the rest of the team, but with a year of division one basketball underneath them, they’re comfortable at this level.

Another big transfer name, and possibly the biggest of them all, is that of Jerkaila Jordan. Jordan comes to the MSU roster from Tulane, where she was selected to the all AAC first team, all AAC freshman team, and AAC freshman of the year; an impressive resume, no doubt, and if she can make the transition to SEC play while maintaining the same numbers, Jordan has the potential and youth to be the face of the program for years to come.

All in all, MSU will be fronting a much more talented team this year, with more depth than anyone can hope for in the frontcourt. What interim head coach Novak does with this talent, though, is obviously still to be seen. Realistically, though, if the Bulldogs can make it to the dance amidst all of the turmoil this year has already brought them, it could be considered a good thing. Only time will tell, as MSU women’s basketball will play their first game of the season on Nov. 9 against Alabama State in the Hump at 6 p.m. CT.