The TCU women’s basketball team enters this season with a full year of coach Raegan Pebley’s system under its belt.
It’s a system marked by up-tempo play, including a full-court press that leads to points in transition.
As the Horned Frogs reached conference play last season, that aspect of the system took hold with a smaller lineup that saw five guards on the floor at times, leading to a program-best third-place finish in the Big 12.
TCU finished 18-14 and 9-9 in the Big 12 last season.
Some of that momentum carries over with the return of senior scoring leaders Zahna Medley, a preseason all-Big 12 selection, and Veja Hamilton, a preseason all-Big 12 honorable mention pick.
“We still have scorers,” Medley said. “Veja and I are still here and we were the top leading scorers the past seasons, so I feel like our presence is still there. We’re just gaining defense and rebounding, so I feel, if anything, we’re going to be better than last year.”
Even with what TCU returns, it will look like a different team. The Frogs will no longer be forced into a five-guard lineup with the addition of two post players.
Medley’s experience as a four-year starter will be especially valuable to a pair of freshmen who will be called into action from Day One: center Jordan Moore and forward Adeola Akomolafe.
Both standing at 6-foot-3, the two fill a void that plagued TCU last season: the ability to defend and rebound against the height in the Big 12.
When God made ’Ola, he said, ‘You shall rebound’. That is what she does. She is a possession-getter. She’s got tremendous athleticism and instincts for the ball.
Raegan Pebley on post player Adeola Akomolafe
TCU’s biggest off-season acquisition came from SMU. Graduate transfer Destynee Hives-McCray brings four years of experience and a physical presence inside the perimeter.
Hives-McCray played in 28 games last year for SMU as a junior, finishing second on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game. She led the team in shooting percentage at 47.4 percent and had a team-high six double-doubles.
“Destynee has that experience that the other newcomers don’t’ have,” Pebley said. “She understands pace of play and physicality and just a mentality that you have to embrace.”
In its first year under Pebley, TCU barely missed an NCAA Tournament bid, but advanced to the second round of the WNIT. Earning that tournament bid is the goal this season.
“I feel like I’ve been here forever, but it’s been a fun forever and I really enjoy this program and this school,” said Medley, who is 456 points from the school record in career points. “It’s a great school and I kind of don’t want to graduate because I’m going to miss this place. Going to really make my senior year one to remember and something great.”
Travis L. Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Travis_L_Brown.
TCU vs. Sam Houston State
6 p.m. Friday, University Recreation Center