The Lady Raiders Are Building Serious Momentum in 2023
In Coach Gerlich's first season back in Lubbock after her career as a player and assistant coach, she was taking over a program in shambles. Sure, the Lady Raiders had just won 7 conference games heading into the COVID stoppage, but that offseason went into panic mode after Marlene Stollings was fired and Gerlich was brought in extremely late in the process.
As a result of the coaching change, there was a lot of turnover on the roster. In both the first season of the Gerlich tenure and the second season. Now, in year three, we're seeing Coach Gerlich get her feet underneath her as a roster builder, motivator, and coach. It's led to the Lady Raiders to a 15-4 record and a 3-3 mark in Big 12 play. Their best start since 2017 when they started 3-3 in conference play, before struggling to keep up the momentum.
A few differences between that season's start of conference play and this one. When the Lady Raiders started 3-3 in 2017, they'd won three home games and lost three on the road. These Lady Raiders have two road wins and just beat a top-25 team at home. In the NET Rankings, that 25th-ranked Texas Longhorns team the Lady Raiders just beat are 12th. The Lady Raiders also have wins over Colorado and Middle Tennessee who both sit in the top 20 of the NET rankings as of the publishing of this article.
Another big difference between that team and this one is the emergence of Bre'Amber Scott. No offense to Reece' Caldwell or Ivonne CookTaylor or any of the other guards on that 2016-17 team, Bre Scott has been a different kind of player to start Big 12 play. Her lowest point total in Big 12 play so far has been 18 and she has games of 37 and 28 in back-to-back wins this week against Kansas State and Texas. She has also notched two double-doubles with 11 boards in two different games to start Big 12 play.
Scott has been a walking bucket. Simple as that.
With the consistency of veteran players like Scott and Bryn Gerlich along with the emergence of young players like Jasmine Shavers, Bailey Maupin, and most recently Kilah Freelon against Texas, this roster looks like it is finally building something legitimate.
Add to that that this team plays with an aggressive edge which they take from their fearless leader and the Lady Raiders could legitimately be looking at an appearance in post-season play for the first time since 2013. That season was an NCAA tournament berth, but the season before featured a WNIT showing.
Either would be a big step for the Lady Raiders with the WNIT even potentially garnering a home game in the tournament with the setup of that bracket.
It might be too early for the Lady Raiders to book flights for a Sweet 16, but I think they can legitimately finish .500 in conference play with a chance to get into a post-season scrum, and with a player like Bre'Amber Scott on the roster, anything can happen on any given night.