USU women’s basketball releases non-conference schedule, begins summer workouts | Sports

LOGAN — On the same day that first-year Utah State women’s basketball head coach Wesley Brooks officially began summer workouts for the Aggies, his team’s non-conference schedule was released to the public.

The 13-game non-conference slate is split into four home games (plus a home exhibition), six road games and two neutral site contests, but they are not evenly distributed. The Aggies will play their home exhibition against Westminster on Oct. 25 for the unofficial start, then open the regular season with three home games against Kansas City (Nov. 4), CSU Northridge (Nov. 8) and CSU Bakersfield (Nov. 14) before a very, very long road trip.

Following the initial three home games, Utah State will not play another home game for 43 days. That long stretch will see some of USU’s toughest games of the year and includes road games against Northern Colorado (Nov. 17), Colorado (Nov. 19), Omaha (Nov. 26), Utah (Dec. 5), Grand Canyon (Dec. 8) and Idaho (Dec. 15).

“As a first-year (coach in a) program, it kind of happens,” Brooks told media following the practice. “We’ll build a toughness. We’ll build a callus. And then we’ll continue to just get better. You’ve got to win on the road. You’ve got to learn to win on the road. Good teams win on the road, doesn’t matter.”

Sandwiched between the Omaha and Utah games is the multi-team event the Aggies will participate in: the Daytona Beach Classic. It will be a three-team, two-game showcase with Utah State playing on Nov. 29 and 30. The participants have not been officially announced, but Ethan Westerman of Whole Hog Sports reported on May 20 that Arkansas would be participating with Oklahoma State being one opponent along with a to-be-determined “Division I mid-major team” that is presumably Utah State with this later announcement.

The non-conference schedule concludes with a return home to play UC Riverside on Dec. 18. After that, the Aggies will begin Mountain West play. The full conference schedule has not been released, but with the change to a 20-game slate, the only thing not known is the order and dates in which Utah State will play each of its 10 conference foes in both home and away contests.

Overall, it’s a schedule with a lot of potentially tough games mixed with some easier opponents. Five foes (including presumed opponents Arkansas and Oklahoma State) finished last season inside the top 100 of the NET rankings, Colorado (15th) and Utah (12th) were both top 15. But Brooks wanted to make sure this first slate of games prepared his team for not only Mountain West play but to have a resume worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid.

“The non-conference is to prepare you for the conference schedule. So we’re excited for the non-conference schedule,” Brooks said. “We want to try to get some wins there because we’re always thinking NCAA Tournament and we want to build a resume as well for that. So that’s why we put our non-conference schedule like that.”

USU Women’s Basketball Non-Conference Schedule

Westminster (Exh) Home Oct. 25
Kansas City Home Nov. 4
CSU Northridge Home Nov. 8
CSU Bakersfield Home Nov. 14
Northern Colorado Away Nov. 17
Colorado Away Nov. 19
Omaha Away Nov. 26
Daytona Beach Classic Neutral Nov. 29
Daytona Beach Classic Neutral Nov. 30
Utah Away Dec. 5
Grand Canyon Away Dec. 8
Idaho Away Dec. 15
UC Riverside Home Dec. 18

Monday marked the first official day of preparation for all of those games. Brooks began implementing his planned system of high-paced, 3-point heavy offense and 94-feet pressure defense. The drills run reflected the emphasis on those aspects of the system with lots of running, lots of quick shots and practicing principles of the full court press.

“The first thing we wanted to do was establish the pace,” Brooks said. “And I think we did a good job of establishing the pace. Starting to implement our five-out offense. Starting to implement our press. But our pace, the girls played with great pace today and I think that’s going to be a big advantage for us as we move forward.”

None of the players on Utah State’s roster have played under Brooks or his system before. But the consensus seems to be that the players prefer the fast and open style of play. Returning veterans Cheyenne Stubbs and Ivory Finley both said they enjoy this style.

“I’ve grown up my whole life playing that way,” Stubbs said. “I love to press, run-and-gun, jump people. It just makes it more fun. If we can bust the clock on people this year that’s what we’re gonna do.”

“This is gonna be fun and we’re gonna embrace it,” Finley said. “All the challenges, everything that comes with it. We’re gonna embrace it with open arms.”

The roster is filled with youth, having only four seniors who are outnumbered by the five freshman plus one sophomore. The team will need to go through a quick learning curve to pull off any positive results.

USU Women’s Basketball 2024-25 Roster

 Karlie Banks Fr. F 5-11
Ivory Finley Sr. G 5-10
Jamisyn Heaton Jr. G 5-10
Gracie Johnson So. C 6-6
Carlie Latta Fr. G 5-10
Elise Livingston Fr.  G 5-9
Ava Smith Fr. G 5-8
Sophie Sene Jr. C 6-3
Denae Skelton Fr. G 5-8
Cheyenne Stubbs Sr. G 5-5
Samiana Suguturaga Sr. F 5-11
Isabella Tanedo Jr. G 5-4
Mia Tarver Jr. G 5-7
Allyzee Verdan Sr. F 6-2

Positive results are something this team, and the program as a whole, crave. Poor seasons in recent years haunt the Aggies who have only 24 wins across the last four years and just three victories in conference play in the last two campaigns. The players want to prove that past seasons of disappointment are not who they are right now.

“Last year does not define this this at all. We are a completely brand new team and we’re coming for the number one spot,” Stubbs said.

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