Women's Basketball Preview: Mississippi Valley State
2016-17 Record and Finish: 10-20 (7-11 SWAC); Lost in SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals
Key Returners: PG Kristy Parker, F/G Kenya Arnold
Key Losses: F/C Ashley Beals, G Christina Reed, F Kenya Hailey
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The 2017-18 Southwestern Athletic Conference women’s basketball season will mark the start of a new era out in Itta Bena, Miss for the Mississippi Valley State Devilettes.
Entering the year, the Devilettes must withstand the graduations of two 1,000-point scorers in Ashley Beals and Christina Reed. Additionally, Mississippi Valley also welcome a new leader to the sidelines in Ashley Walker.
There will be experience at point guard with Kristy Parker entering her junior season. Parker is the team’s top returning scorer from last year (9.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.0 SPG) and shot 31 percent from deep last season. Parker is likely to be counted on as the top scorer and offensive playmaker for the Devilettes.
For Mississippi Valley, there are several new faces to bring up to speed. However, wing player Kenya Arnold is the prime candidate for a breakout season. As one of the few returnees with experience, Arnold – who made 26 starts but averaged just over two points a night -- could benefit the most from the new opportunities that have arisen thanks to vacancies.
Kassadey Bolden and Nyla Smith have good size on in the inside and given that interior play was a strength for the Devilettes thanks to the now-graduated Beals, the play of Bolden and Smith can go a long way in balancing out the Devilettes’ attack.
From that point, the onus is on Walker and the coaching staff to have the newest Devilettes ready to contribute meaningful production from day one. With names like Ashleigh Foye, Desiray Mosley, LaKendra Bassett and Sydney Floyd looking to bolster the backcourt depth, the Devilettes’ season may hinge upon the effectiveness of guard play.
Mississippi Valley’s out-of-conference schedule features tilts versus Southern Mississippi (Nov. 16), Colorado (Nov. 24), Western Kentucky (Dec. 12) and Mississippi State (Dec. 28). The Devilettes begin their campaign Nov. 11 at UAB.