Georgia Tech coach Nell Fortner has purpose for confidence after bringing again practically the complete roster from this system’s first NCAA Sweet 16 group in practically a decade.
She’s not alone in the Atlantic Coast Conference, both.
“Yeah, we have a lot of experience coming back,” Fortner mentioned Wednesday throughout the league’s preseason media day. “But so does everybody else.”
That’s true of the highest contenders, in explicit. Reigning two-time event champion North Carolina State returns its high eight scorers. Louisville, which has gained at the least a share of the regular-season title for 4 straight seasons, has a number of starters again whereas bringing in two confirmed transfers from different power-conference faculties to offset the lack of two-time league participant of the 12 months Dana Evans.
NCAA groups like Virginia Tech and Florida State are very similar to Fortner’s Yellow Jackets in returning practically their whole rosters, whereas the Seminoles get a further increase with the return of longtime coach Sue Semrau after she took a leave of absence last season to look after her ailing mom.
That units up a league race headlined by groups counting on older gamers with loads of sport expertise.
“Talent matters, too,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz mentioned. “If you’re experienced and bad, you’re still bad. … But what we have in this league right now is we have experienced good players. Now that’s where it’s going to have a bigger impact.”
The league didn’t have a Final Four group final season, however did have a national-best eight bids for the third consecutive event with three groups advancing previous the opening weekend.
The Cardinals made the deepest run to a regional last earlier than falling to eventual national champion Stanford. The Wolfpack earned this system’s first No. 1 seed earlier than falling in the Sweet 16. The Yellow Jackets additionally made it there for the primary time since 2012.
Now it is time to construct off that have.
Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks has already seen at the least one profit. After reaching their first NCAA Tournament since 2006, the Hokies are having shorter and extra environment friendly practices as a result of the group is doing extra fine-tuning than studying from scratch in comparison with this time final 12 months.
“We don’t have freshmen on our roster so I don’t have to come off of a curl screen, I don’t have to teach them to how to get over a ballscreen,” Brooks mentioned. “They know how to do that, so we can more advanced in what we’re doing. We’re going to be more complex probably on both ends of the court.
“It’s been a number of enjoyable simply because they’re so receptive however they are a very, very good basketball group.”
Cardinals redshirt senior guard Kianna Smith, Louisville’s top returning scorer, is excited by the prospect for an elevated level of play in the league creating exciting league games. Teammate Hailey Van Lith pointed out that it will create an additional challenge, too.
“All the coaches are excellent at their job, they’ve nice scouts,” Van Lith said. “I do know as a participant it may be irritating to play in the ACC as a result of they know each transfer you need to make. It simply makes us higher, particularly as a group and getting ready us as a (nationwide) top-5 program, which I imagine we’re.”
N.C. State is in similar position. Second-team Associated Press All-American Elissa Cunane is the headliner among all the Wolfpack’s returnees, backed by the addition sophomore transfers Diamond Johnson (who averaged 17.6 points at Rutgers) and Madison Hayes (Mississippi State).
Wes Moore’s Wolfpack will face higher pressure and expectations than any point in in the program’s recent history. And the team is driven by memories of a season-ending upset loss to Indiana with starting forward Kayla Jones sidelined by a knee injury.
Moore said the team was so bothered by it that they specifically opted not to commemorate the team’s three consecutive Sweet 16 appearances on their ACC championship rings. And the sting is part of the reason Jones joined teammates Kai Crutchfield and Raina Perez in returning for the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I actually really feel like now we have unfinished enterprise, you understand?” Jones said. “Our aim is, sure, we need to win one other ACC Tournament, but it surely’s larger. It must be larger. I’m bored with going to only the Sweet 16.”
Walz said he believes the league has roughly a half-dozen teams that could end up earning top-4 regional seeds by March. Getting there through a rugged league season will likely have those teams tested and ready.
“That’s what we would like,” Georgia Tech senior guard Lotta-Maj Lahtinen said. “We get pleasure from competitors and we need to play the most effective.”
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