by Andrew Goodwin, Sports Information Assistant
SPOKANE, Wash. – Every new year brings change for a collegiate basketball team, but the 2018-19 season contains an extra helping for Whitworth women's basketball.
First year head coach Joial Griffith and seven newcomers join a team that finished sixth in the Northwest Conference last season with a 10-15 overall record. Eight Pirates are back from the 2017-18 campaign, including NWC Freshman of the Year Camy Aguinaldo and All-NWC honorable mention choice Madison Moffat.
"The expectation for the team this year is to compete, continue to learn and grow together and get after it on the defensive end," Griffith said. "Fans can expect us to push the basketball and use our defense to fuel our offense."
Aguinaldo will surely factor into the Whitworth offense as the Bucs push the pace offensively. The speedy sophomore led the NWC with 5.3 assists per game and finished fifth in the conference in points with 15.3 per game.
Shannon Tran will likely back up Aguinaldo at point guard. The junior provided a steady presence at the position last season in 11.5 minutes per game. Talia Brandner will provide key depth at point guard in addition to playing on the wing.
The Pirates will also have plenty of talent on the wing in the upcoming season. In addition to gritty defense, Moffat brings back double-double production after averaging 12.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game last season.
"Madison brings leadership, a lot of toughness on both ends of the floor, and the ability to do the little things without complaint." Griffith said.
Moffat will likely be joined on the win by Jordan Smith, a three-point shooting transfer from Corban University. The duo will be backed-up by Brandner and Lexi Tinney, who returns to Whitworth after proving herself as a spark-plug scorer last season. Annie Estes will provide toughness, rebounding, and some three-point shooting to the wing.
Much like last season, the Pirates have suffered early injuries to post players this year. Fortunately, Griffith has plenty of depth at the position in 2018-19. In addition to Alli Kieckbusch, a sweet-shooting returning starter at the position, the Bucs will have three excellent freshman at the position, led by Megan Dorney.
"Megan has stepped up and should be able to contribute big minutes for us on both ends of the floor," Griffith said. "We are dealing with some injuries with our post players and she has shown a great ability to defend and rebound."
Aimee Smith and Morgan Winder will both be counted on to provide valuable minutes in the post as freshmen. The duo will be especially needed early in the year as Madison Abbott and Courtney Gray return from injuries.
The Pirates open the 2018-19 campaign at home when they take on Montana Tech as part of the Whit Classic on Nov. 16. Texas-Tyler trips up to Spokane for the Whit Classic as well and the Bucs square off with the Patriots on Nov. 17.
Whitworth opens Northwest Conference play at home on Nov. 30 against Willamette. The Pirates' schedule includes three teams who earned spots in the 2018 Division III NCAA Tournament last season: Whitman, George Fox, and national semifinalist Thomas More.