Westminster women's basketball was selected to finish fourth in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, based on a poll by the league's head coaches.
The Blue Jays return four starters from the squad that finished seventh a season ago, including third team All-Conference selection Mirrakohl Johnson.
Coach Arnold on Johnson: MJ had a great season last year and is just scratching the surface of her potential. Her mid-range game continues to improve and if she adds that consistently to her ability to finish around the rim and her toughness…woah, look out!
In the 2016-17 season, Johnson led the league in offensive boards with 94 and 3.9 per game. She averaged 10.3 points per game and 7.8 rebounds per game, which was fourth in the conference.
On Beeler: Peebs had a really nice junior year last season. She has the ability to score and score quickly. I am excited about adding her full time once she finishes up another fantastic soccer season.
On Ray: Kelsey is without a doubt one of the hardest workers on our team. She leads by example every single practice. Her jump shot continues to improve and you can always rely on her to be at the right place at the right time. She is leader on our team and a leader on campus!
On Callahan: We are excited to be able to move Mikalyn to the perimeter some this season. I think this will allow her to show off her shooting ability more and also her knack for attacking off the bounce. I think she has a great chance for a break-out year.
On Hale: Lydia Hale is a coach's dream! She is the ultimate team player, always giving 100%, and is super reliable. Lydia saw limited time a year ago but I can say with great confidence she will be on the court much more this year as she continues to improve in all facets and makes our team better.
On Howard: T Howard is back by popular demand. Having focused on track & field and cross country the last couple of years we are super excited to have her back. She gives us a change-up at the point guard position and certainly helps our overall depth. She is in great shape and is always going hard.
On top of the strong returning class for the Blue Jays, Westminster women's basketball brings in an array of new faces, including first year Head Coach James Arnold, who replaces Tracey Braden at the helm of the Blue Jays after spending two seasons as an assistant at Southeast Missouri State University.
On Archambault: Grace is game ready! She plays hard, tough, runs the floor really well and will make an impact on both ends of the floor.
On Ingle: I've been fortunate to coach some great shooters in my career and Avery has the make-up to be as good as any of them. She has a chance to break some records here at WestMo.
On Jackson: Mak is such a great athlete. She was a star in the weight room and in conditioning this preseason and can do a little bit of everything for us.
On Marek: Kelsey continues to impress in practices. She is a really good athlete and will give us some much needed depth at the forward position.
On Sutterfield: Abbe comes from a great high school program where she has been extremely well coached and it shows. As an undersized forward you have to have a great work ethic and a really high basketball IQ – Abbe has both!
Along with the strong incoming class, Arnold brought in two transfers to add more depth to an already solid Blue Jay backbone, Kendahl Adams and Jahne Williams. Adams comes from Stephens College (NAIA) while Williams played at Ellsworth Community College.
On Adams: Kendahl is a bucket getter. Period. Bucket getter. I'm pumped she is a Blue Jay!
On Williams: Jahne may be the heart and soul of our squad. She gives energy every day. I am sure Jahne will provide some significant match-up issues this season. She is deceivingly athletic, strong around the rim, has a nice mid-range game, and may be the best passer on the team.
Along with the two tranfers, Elise Prince from Great Britain will join the squad for a semester while in the United States as an exchange student.
On Prince: Unfortunately Elise will only be with us for this fall semester as she is an exchange student. Nevertheless, she has made a tremendous impact on our program on and off the court. She continues to improve and I am excited for her to show her new game off to her teammates back home next semester.
The Blue Jays begin the 2017-18 season with the Tip-Off Tournament hosted by Greenville College Nov. 17-18. Westminster will face Illinois College and Millikin University. The squad will also face two NCAA Division I opponents this season including Evansville of the Missouri Valley Conference and Colorado of the Pac-12.
"I am super excited about this roster and the potential we have," said Arnold. "The cupboard was certainly not bare and I really like our late additions. With so many new faces, new scheme, and with us being so young it may take us a little time to find ourselves but I'm optimistic this group can compete for a spot in the conference tournament."
Full Preason Poll: