College Basketball: Wright State women boast improved depth

Everyone connected with the Wright State women’s basketball team is pleased to see all five starters back from last year. But if Katrina Merriweather has her way, folks will be seeing a little less of them this season.

The second-year coach thought the fivesome of Chelsea Welch, Lexi Smith, Emily Vogelpohl, Symone Simmons and Mackenzie Taylor logged too many minutes last season. Merriweather would have preferred a deeper rotation but didn’t have much confidence in her bench.

That shouldn’t be a problem this season. One of the positive develops of preseason practice is that the Raiders appear to have enough capable backups to withstand foul trouble and give the starters some breathers.

“I look out there, and we have 12 kids we can put in the game,” Merriweather said. “The biggest challenge as a coaching staff is to figure out positions and minutes.”

The coaches hope to find a few answers during an exhibition game against Indianapolis at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Nutter Center. The Division II Greyhounds, who play in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, finished 17-14 last season and return three starters.

Merriweather said one of her reserves making a move up the depth chart is sophomore guard Jalise Beck, who hails from Indianapolis and played in 25 games last season for the 25-9 Raiders.

Any bump in playing time will have been earned.

“She did not miss one workout all offseason — not weight-lifting, not conditioning, not basketball, not agility,” Merriweather said, adding that classmates Carly Clodfelter and Dasia Evans also have made big jumps from last year.

The four players in a highly regarded freshman class also are pushing the starters.

“They’re further along than we thought. They’re very, very skilled offensively,” Merriweather said.

But the Raiders, who won a share of the Horizon League regular-season title last season, were picked second in the preseason poll behind Green Bay because of all that talent and experience in the starting lineup.

Welch, a 5-9 senior guard, was named the preseason conference player of the year, while Smith, a 5-10 senior center, was chosen second-team all-league.

“Chelsea and Lexi are both very committed to having great senior years and be role models for the rest of the team,” Merriweather said.

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