Women's Basketball Preview: Prairie View A&M
2016-17 Record and Finish: 13-18 (8-10 SWAC); Lost in SWAC Tournament Quarterfinals
Key Returners: F La’Sha Haynes, G Dominique Newman
Key Losses: G Alexus Parker, G Tori Carter, G Jeronia Allen
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After falling to the eventual Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champion, Prairie View A&M heads into 2017-18 looking to remain a factor in the chase for the SWAC crown. However, the Lady Panthers may have the most to replace among teams who fancy themselves as contenders.
While Prairie View does bring back a fair bit of last year’s personnel, the departures are significant. Head coach Ravon Justice enters her second year on the sidelines tasked with steering her team through the graduations of Prairie View A&M’s top three scorers.
With that being said, the Lady Panthers have the potential to field one of the top inside-out duos in the league, as second-team All-SWAC preseason forward La’Sha Haynes (6.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG) and sophomore point guard Dominique Newman (9.3 PPG, 1.4 SPG, 48 made threes) are set to return.
Haynes – the conference’s top returning rebounder – is in line for an uptick in scoring as is Newman, who flashed an offensive punch despite being the No. 4 guard in Justice’s backcourt-focused lineup last year.
Assuming they develop into the go-to scorers PVAMU needs, the Lady Panthers will count on a quick acclimation of complementary pieces to flesh out a unit predicted to finish fifth in the standings.
The prime candidates for these roles are new signees Shala Dobbins, La’Neique Nealey and Bernesha Peters. Dobbins and Nealey were JUCO All-Americans that are expected to pay immediate dividends on the court, as Dobbins is said to bring electric playmaking ability to the guard spot alongside Newman, and Nealey offering mismatches on the inside.
Peters, a transfer from Texas-Rio Grande Valley, also offers a proven hand at point.
Prairie View A&M’s out-of-conference schedule features tilts versus Texas A&M (Nov. 28), Clemson (Dec. 8), Texas Tech (Dec. 13), Colorado State (Dec. 18) and Rice (Dec. 21). The Lady Panthers open the season with a home date versus Texas-Tyler on Nov. 10.