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2018-19 Season Primer: Part X
UMKC Athletics 7-20-2018
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The UMKC women’s basketball team released their 2018-19 schedule on Monday, a season that will be navigated by a team with 10 newcomers on the roster. Get to know the newest additions to the UMKC family, in addition to learning more about matchups in the upcoming season, with all 10 installments of the 2018-19 Season Primer. The series wraps up with Part X featuring incoming freshman Brooke Hampel (Huntsville, Ala.) and a conference road contest at CSU Bakersfield on Feb. 16.

Success on the hardwood is no stranger to Brooke Hampel, one of 10 newcomers to the UMKC women’s basketball making their debut in the 2018-19 season. As a standout player and four-year starter for Hazel Green High School, Hampel helped guide her team on a run spanning four years that included four Final Four appearances and an Alabama Class 7A State Championship last season.

The team’s dominant stretch was due in large part to Hampel, a versatile 5 foot 10 wing with the ability to stuff the stat sheet on a consistent basis. As a junior in 2016-17, Hampel averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in leading her Hazel Green HS team to a 32-2 record and a State Runner-Up finish. The impressive season performance led to a First Team All-State selection as well as a being named a finalist in the Mrs. Basketball award for the state of Alabama.

As a senior this past season, Hampel continued to show off her talent in posting averages of 17.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game on the year. Her ability to impact the game in a number of ways pushed Hazel Green HS back to the State Championship game for a second consecutive year, where Hampel’s 15 points and five rebounds earned MVP honors and secured a championship for the school. Being able to contribute in every facet of the game is what Hampel points to as a way she can help the Roos immediately.

“I think initially I can help the team by being an active and versatile player,” noted Hampel. “I can also bring a positive mindset and energy to help lift up the team.”

With summer workouts approaching an end as the fall semester looms right around the corner, Hampel has relished the team activities thus far as she works alongside nine fellow newcomers in preparation of a successful second season for head coach Jacie Hoyt. Having such a large group of first-year teammates has been a factor in making the workouts a positive experience for the Huntsville, Ala., native.

“Adjusting to summer workouts has been an enjoyable experience for me. Although the workouts are difficult, it is exciting to bond with my teammates and work to get better. It is very helpful for me to have teammates who are in similar positions. I feel like I have a support system and we are building a unique bond by going through this transition together.”

UMKC will be greatly reliant upon Hampel and the other incoming players to obtain the success they are dedicated to achieving in the upcoming season. Past performance on the court is an overly solid indication that she will be up for the task. Beyond executing physically, Hampel believes that mental aspects of being a great team will be equally as vital.

“One of my past coaches told me that when things aren’t going your way, focus on what you can control. You can’t control if you hit shots all the time but you can control how much energy you have on the court. I feel like as a team we need to learn each other as players and build chemistry on and off the court. As a freshman, I need to soak up the experience from upperclassmen and be willing to be uncomfortable with coaching critiques.”

In terms of specific games on the schedule ahead, Hampel is looking forward to road matchups at CSU Bakersfield and California Baptist, noting that she “has never been to California and have always wanted to go!”

Scouting the Roadrunners

After splitting the season series with CSU Bakersfield last season, UMKC will square off with the Roadrunners in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) action twice in 2018-19, including a trip to Bakersfield on Feb. 16. The Roos were claimed a 60-58 road victory over CSU Bakersfield last year but trail 9-2 in the all-time series heading into the upcoming season.

Both contests against CSU Bakersfield, particularly the February matchup in Bakersfield, will be no easy task for the Roos. The Roadrunners enter the season as an experienced group, returning all five starters from the 2017-18 squad that posted a record of 18-14 (10-4 WAC) and finished second in the conference standings.

Notable returners for CSU Bakersfield include senior forward Aja Williams and junior guard Alexxus Gilbert. Williams led the team in scoring a season ago at 12.0 points per game and finished second on the team with 5.5 rebounds per game. Gilbert, who started in all 32 games on the year, averaged 9.5 points per game while leading the team with 2.6 assists per game and a .350 three-point shooting percentage.

Given that most of last season’s roster is back in 2018-19, the Roadrunners will likely continue to lean on their defense for success. Last season, the team’s defense proved to be the stingiest in the league, leading the WAC in allowing just 55.4 points per game on 36.6% field goal shooting to conference opponents. Getting to the foul line and converting free throw opportunities could be a key in the matchup as CSU Bakersfield finished in the bottom-half of the WAC in fouls per game.

Contributing to their strong defensive stats was the team’s ability to secure rebounds on both ends of the floor in conference play. The Roadrunners finished third in the WAC grabbing 38.6 boards per game, 15.1 of which came on the offensive end. The squad allowed opponents to pull down 34.2 rebounds per game for a league-best +4.4 rebound margin. One interesting note in the rebounding department comes from the Roadrunners allowing 11.9 offensive rebounds per game to WAC opponents, third-most in the conference, perhaps giving the Roos a chance to capitalize on second-chance opportunities.

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