By Kendrick Jackson, Advertising Manager
The Lady Hilltoppers will see a notable change to its bench this upcoming season as Hall of Fame coach, Lynn Ullom, decided to step down as head coach after 26 seasons. However, with four returning starters and a stellar recruiting class, newly hired head coach, Kyle Cooper, is ready to preserve the program’s success.
Ullom selected Cooper as his successor in May after accepting the new role of athletic director at West Liberty University. Coach Cooper served the last four seasons under former head coach Ullom, as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.
Also new to the hilltop this season is assistant coach, Cassie Seth. Seth comes to WLU after spending a lone season as the assistant coach at Baldwin-Wallace (Ohio) University. Not only a student of the game, Seth spent her playing years at Mercyhurst (Pa.) University, where she finished in the school’s top 10 all-time in points and steals.
Coach Cooper has 10 returning players for the Black and Gold this season. Led by senior guard, McKenna Shives, the Lady Hilltoppers are ready to improve after a tough 2016-17 season.
A transfer from Gannon (Pa.) University, Shives did not disappoint in her first season in the Mountain East Conference (MEC). Shives earned second-team All-MEC, while leading the nation with 206 three-point field goals during the 2016-17 campaign. Shives also posted a career-high of 33 points, including nine three-point makes, against Ohio Dominican University.
On the contrary, our Lady Hilltoppers failed to live up to expectations after being listed as No. 3 in last season’s preseason poll by MEC coaches. They posted a 9-20 record with a first-round exit in the MEC Tournament. However, one of those wins included an upset against eventual MEC-Champion, Wheeling Jesuit University.
This season’s MEC preseason poll has the Black and Gold projected as the eighth best team in the conference. With a strong nucleus returning and a talented group of newcomers, Coach Cooper remains optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We have put together a committed group of young ladies that has totally bought into what we’re doing,” Cooper said. “We’ve assembled a roster that is built for what we want to do as a coaching staff and a program and we’re really looking forward to getting out on the court.”
Our Lady Hilltoppers will open the season on the road against California (Pa.) University on Nov. 11 for a non-conference matchup. This is the first of two games in the MEC/PSAC Challenge. Tip-off begins at 4 p.m.
Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com