When second year head coach Candice Jackson was asked what she hopes the team to improve upon this season she said, “really everything, just because in year one I did not have anything to compare it too.”
After last season’s 5-25 record, coach Jackson and the Cougars will look to begin their turnaround in the 2015-16 season when they host Houston at the TD Arena Fri. (4 p.m.).
Though the team struggled in the first year with the new system, Jackson has experience with gradually turning a team around from her years as a graduate assistant at Michigan State University. As she recalls, “when I first got there we were the second to last team in the league and each year we progressed and by my fifth year we were the second best team in the country.” This type of mindset should give the Cougars the confidence to be able to improve every year.
The Cougars have a lot of promise this season behind their star player Bre Bolden. Last season, as a sophomore, she led the team in minutes, points, and rebounds, en route to the crown of CAA Defensive Player of the Year. Other key contributors to the senior transfer Kelsey Booth and redshirt senior Jackie Luna-Castro.
Kelsey Booth is transferring from Siena University, where as a junior she led the team in three pointers (41), blocks (22), and free throw percentage (91.4%). Booth also finished the year with 25 consecutive made free throws. She is a tall, lengthy forward who can shoot, which will help spread the floor and alleviate some of the pressure on Bolden.
Redshirt senior Jackie Luna-Castro should also be a major contributor to Charleston’s frontcourt, as she brings a lot of experience to the team. Luna-Castro averaged 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.5 blocks in the 2014-2015 season.
Coach Jackson is confident that the newcomers to the team will make their presence felt early on. “I think all three of our freshmen and even our two newcomers Nola and Kelsey all have made an immediate impact.”
Turning the Cougars around will be no easy task but Coach Jackson believes they will have a chance to improve in the early stages of the season because of the tough non-conference games that they have scheduled. They will play road games against Boise State and Virginia Tech in which both of those games will test the Cougars’ in two loud environments.
In addition, the Cougars will host 8th ranked Louisville Cardinals on Dec 20. Coach Jackson believes that playing top-tier programs can only benefit them. “Louisville is a Final Four team, a contender for the ACC Championship, and why not. We played Connecticut last year and in order for you to become the best you have to play the best”.
Coach Jackson is excited for the season to start and is eager to battle teams in the highly competitive Colonial Athletic Association.
“We’ve talked about the things that we’ve needed to change about us, so we’re going to take that into Friday and see where we’re at.”
Prior to the start of the season opener, a moment of silence will be observed in remembrance of the nine victims of the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.