Women’s Basketball: Road back to the NCAA Tournament begins with difficult schedule
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Wright State head coach Mike Bradbury has made no bones about it; he wants his squad to be challenged during the nonconference schedule.
A year after scheduling Louisville, NC State, Dayton, and Middle Tennessee en route to the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid, Bradbury said earlier this week that this year’s schedule would be comparable.
Included on the schedule is a neutral-site contest against Boston College, Purdue on the road, and Dayton in the Nutter Center.
“Last year’s schedule was our toughest ever,” Bradbury said. “This year’s is close to it. We’ll play at least six teams in the top 50 in the RPI.
Coming off an NCAA Tournament berth has not caused any challenges for scheduling games for this upcoming season as most of the games were confirmed before last season began. But Bradbury said finding quality opponents may become a challenge for Wright State as the program builds.
“It gets harder, but most everyone have their schedules done a year in advance,” Bradbury said. “It didn’t hurt us this year, but where it is going to hurt us is next year.”
Bradbury was on the road this week recruiting during the NCAA’s open period. Meanwhile, his team has participated in limited practices at WSU’s practice facility getting ready for the upcoming season.
The Raiders lost seniors Ivory James and KC Elkins from their starting lineup. But Bradbury is confident WSU has the firepower to return to the NCAA Tournament. The Raiders return Horizon League Player of the Year Kim Demmings who is set to break the 2,000-point mark and the school’s scoring record.
“We return the majority of our team,” Bradbury said. ‘We’re working hard and we have good attitudes over the summer. We’ll have the talent to make a run at it again. We stayed healthy last year, if we stay healthy this year, we’ll have a real chance to win.”
One player WSU will likely not have to start the season is Richelle van der Keijl. The 6-foot-5 center tore her Achilles in October which caused her to sit out the entire 2013-14 season. She is back in the Netherlands for the summer.
“I am hoping she’ll return early in the year, we’ll just have to see how it goes,” Bradbury said. “She comes back Aug. 20 so we’ll know more then. She was making good progress before she left but she is no where near playing.”
Van der Keijl has not played competitive basketball since last August when she participated in the European under-20 championships.