Canes’ returning Senior Point Guard Mykea Gray.

Canes’ returning Senior Point Guard Mykea Gray.

Parents, students and fans, the best value in South Florida sports entertainment is right up the road in Coral Gables.

University of Miami Women’s Basketball competes at the highest level of collegiate athletics as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and it’s possible to bring a family of four to a game for the price of one movie ticket. Season tickets are $75 or $62.50 each when purchased as a ‘Family 4 Pack.’ With 17 home games that’s $3.67 per ticket. Weekday games never start later than 7:00 and weekend games are mostly at noon or 2:00 with one 4:30 Sunday start.

I don’t know if there’s a better motivator for young boys and girls than watching these student athletes perform in a beautiful on campus environment.

This year’s team will be good, very good. I’ll paraphrase Head Coach Katie Meier’s words from a media Zoom conference last week, “All our practices are recorded and I watch them at home after every session. By nature I’m hard to please and flaws stick out as I watch. This year I watch and get excited about our team!”

The 2021-22 Lady Canes feature seven players from last years team, six newcomers and the return of Mykea Gray who suffered an ACL tear and sat out last year. Point guard Mykea has started all 96 games of her career and averaged double-digit points all three years.

Returnees include grad student sharpshooter Kelsey Marshall who has made 241 3-point field goals and has former UM and current WNBA star Riquna Williams all time record of 272 made in her sights. Other returnees are Kenza

Salgues from Montpellier, France, Moulayna Sidi Baba from Stockholm, Sweden, Destiny Harden from Chicago, Naomi Mbandu from Amiens, France, Karla Erjavec from Zagreb, Croatia and Paula Fraile Ruiz from Barcelona, Spain. The returnees include three of UM’s top four scorers from last season in Marshall, Harden and Mbandu as well as the top two rebounders, Mbandu and Harden.

The six newcomers include two transfers and four true freshmen. Utah transfer and Almeria, Spain native Lola Pendande brings 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and will be a great post presence on the floor. Syracuse transfer and Paris, France native Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi will also help the inside game bringing 7.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game to the Miami program.

Freshmen include Mataro, Spain’s Chiso Okafor who has starred in international European competition. Toronto, Canada born Lashae Dwyer who played her senior year at the Webb School in Tennessee and led her team to the State Championship and was named Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year. Jacksonville’s Jasmyne Roberts who’s been named Florida Times and News4 Jax Player of the Year twice and this year was named USA Today. Greater Jacksonville Female Athlete of the Year and Pompano Beach’s Ja’Leah Williams who was named the Sun Sentinel’s Broward County player of the year and earned a spot on the Miami Herald’s First Team and Sun Sentinel’s First Team for two years running. As a senior and captain she led her Blanche Ely team to its first state championship in 28 years.

The team has all the ingredients for success. This will be a squad with a high octane offense and hard nosed experienced defense. I can’t wait for the selection Sunday on-campus party in March when we find out where these Lady Canes will be playing in the NCAA Tournament.

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