Megan Hendrick will return to the court this season. (Courtesy UMass Lowell Athletics)
The road to recovery seems to be the theme this year for the UMass Lowell women’s basketball team. With hopeful spirits, they are looking forward to increasing their 3-25 record from last season. The most anticipated change of this upcoming season is seeing how having a larger, talented roster will aid the team.
Previously injured players and eight new recruits will be making their way to the court this season and adding more versatility into each position.
Redshirt junior guard Brianna Rudolph experienced an injury that prevented her from fully participating throughout the season last winter, but will be back on the court this season.
Sophomore guard Megan Hendrick was injured at the end of the season, and it prevented her from participating in scrimmages during the postseason. But she will be back on the court this season as well. In addition, redshirt sophomore guard Nazarae Butler has had surgery and is expected to be back on the court halfway through the season.
Having a larger roster is one of the biggest changes to keep an eye on.
“The biggest benefit to having more players is that it provides the team with more depth in each position and allows for more players to be able to come up from the bench in order to contribute their skill sets,” said head coach Jenerrie Harris.
One of the eight new recruits is sophomore Angel Agoth from Rochester, Minnesota. She is a political science major concentrating on legal studies, and on the court, she is a power forward. As an out of state transfer, Agoth is still getting used to life here at UMass Lowell.
“When I first came to UML on a visit there was nothing that I did not like about it. I fell in love with it instantly,” she said. “I built a pretty good relationship with the coaches, and the team was nice, and everyone on campus was really nice. Just being able to be a part of this team that is transitioning is exciting, and I did not want to miss out on the opportunity.”
Hendrick from Alexandria, Virginia joined the River Hawk team as a freshman and is now starting her second season as a guard. She is an exercise physiology major. Hendrick also said she felt the instant family connection.
“When I was looking at schools and choosing, I took into consideration how the coaches and the players treated me. They were very welcoming and excited for me to be on campus and it felt like a family,” Hendrick said.
Both Agoth and Hendrick said that being able to join a team that is going to become fully Division I was an opportunity that they could not pass up.
A full transition to Division I means that the team can play against more competitive teams that will force them to increase their intensity and further foster their growth as a team.
“I think that it is cool that we finally get to compete in the postseason, and I know that last year we weren’t able to compete in the postseason,” Hendrick said.
Agoth expressed the same sentiment and said, “I would also say that it is a level playing field, just knowing that we can compete for our conference, we can win our conference, [and] just playing postseason and stuff is exciting.”
The team will be able to compete in conference tournaments and NCAA games after their regular season ends. This will mean more intense practices, which the team is already experiencing.
“I think that we have stepped up our intensity especially since our season just started. We have buckled down on the court and weight room since it is strictly business now,” Hendrick said.