The University of Wyoming’s women’s basketball team was dealing from a position of strength entering the 2012-13 season.
The Cowgirls started the season returning all five starters and all 10 scholarship players from the previous year.
That translated into the biggest turnaround in school history, as Wyoming went from 12 wins the year before to a 24-8 record this season.
Wyoming won’t be as lucky next year in terms of personnel, losing senior starters Chaundra Sewell and Ashley Sickles to graduation.
The 6-foot-1 Sewell leaves Wyoming with her name scattered throughout the record books. A first-team All-Mountain West pick, she averaged 14.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game this year.
Sickles takes with her 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game.
Finding a new inside game will be one of the top priorities for Wyoming before the start of the 2013-14 season.
“It is the major emphasis that we’re going to have to shore up our interior play,” UW coach Joe Legerski said.
Legerski just wrapped up his 10th season leading the Cowgirls and is 196-114 in that span. “We have players in the program where it will now be their chance to step up.”
Here’s a look at the key areas for the Cowgirls for next season:
The cupboard isn’t bare inside for the Cowgirls.
Dayton, Wyo., native Fallon Lewis will return after a solid year off the bench. The 6-foot Lewis came to UW this year after two years at Sheridan College and did a good job in relief of Sewell and Sickles. Lewis averaged 6.1 ppg and 3.6 rpg in 14 minutes a game.
Average that out to 32 minutes a game and Lewis would have averaged nearly 13 points and seven boards. The forward was also UW’s top 3-point shooter, making 24 of 49 trey attempts (49 percent).
“I’m very excited about the way Fallon played,” Legerski said. “What you always hope for from a junior college player is that you get more than one year from them. I thought we got a complete year out of Fallon.
“We have to get Fallon on the floor next year.”
Lewis will likely play the four position (forward), leaving the post spot wide open.
Junior Aubry Boehme (6-0), freshman Whitney Gordon (6-2) and sophomore Jordan Sibrel (6-1) will all get plenty of opportunities to claim the spot this spring and fall. And incoming 6-4 freshman Kaylie Rader from Thornton, Colo., will likely get a good look this fall as well. Boehme, like Lewis a junior-college All-American transfer, played well on defense in a reserve role for UW this year but needs to improve on the offensive end. Gordon is the kind of post player Legerski likes, a big kid who can shoot the three.
Sophomores Kayla Woodward and Kaitlyn Mileto proved to be one of the Mountain West’s top scoring guard duos this past season. Woodward was second on the team at 14.1 ppg, while Mileto was third at 11.8 ppg.
Both players also were very good from behind the 3-point arc. Mileto made 67 3-pointers and shot 41.9 percent, good for 11th nationally. Woodward made 62 threes and shot 39.5 percent, which ranked her No. 23 in the country.
Woodward, a second-team All-MW selection, has scored 802 points over her first two seasons, just the fourth Cowgirl in history to eclipse the 800-point mark in her freshman and sophomore years.
“They will be our two leaders from an offensive standpoint next season,” Legerski said. “Both players were very good offensively, and they can both shoot the three. Now they need to become more complete players, being able to rebound better, getting their assist-to-turnover ratio up, become better defensively.”
Junior Kaylee Hoffman could also see time at either the two or three spot next season as a senior.
Pointing the way
Another position of strength for the Cowgirls this season was at point guard.
Sophomore starter Alison Gorrell and backups Chelan Landry (junior) and Marquelle Dent (freshman) all played solidly rotating through the position.
Gorrell averaged 3.8 ppg and led the team with 3.7 apg this year. Landry had her best season at 3.9 ppg and 2.4 apg.
The 5-9 guard came on late in the season, averaging nearly eight points a game over her last four contests while making the game-winning basket in the Mountain West quarterfinals against Colorado State.
Dent also played well at times this year and averaged 1.3 ppg.
“I thought the point position this year became a strength for us,” Legerski said. “The three point guards all had different abilities, and they played to those abilities.”
Legerski also said he might look at the prospect of playing two point guards on the floor at the same time next season, something UW hasn’t had the opportunity to do in the past.
Incoming freshman guard Hailey Ligocki of Sheridan will add to the mix at the guard positions.
Still more to come
The Cowgirls have two open scholarships as they enter the spring recruiting season.
Legerski said he wouldn’t hesitate to fill up the roster again next season if the right recruit became available this spring.
“We’re still looking to improve the team for next year. We understand where we may have to bring in another junior college player to shore up the weaknesses that this group may have. We’re always on the lookout for players to help this team.”
RETURNING BY THE NUMBERS
Here are the 2012-13 season averages of the returning University of Wyoming women’s basketball players for next season who played on a regular basis. Year listed is next year’s grade:
Pos Player Yr. Ht Pts Reb Asts
F Kayla Woodward Jr. 5-11 14.9 6.3 3.2
G Kaitlyn Mileto Jr. 5-10 11.8 2.6 1.7
G Alison Gorrell Jr. 5-10 3.8 3.5 3.7
F Fallon Lewis Sr. 6-0 6.1 3.6 0.6
G Chelan Landry Sr. 5-9 3.9 1.8 2.4
G Marquelle Dent So. 5-7 1.3 0.8 1.0
F Aubry Boehme Sr. 6-0 1.2 0.9 0.2
G Kaylee Hoffman Sr. 5-10 0.7 0.5 0.3