The St. Thomas University women’s basketball team, which went through three coaches in a span of a couple of months last summer, wasn’t supposed to do much this season.
But the Bobcats (16-10, 13-2), under the third of those coaches, Albrey Grimsley, has clinched the Sun Conference regular-season title and is preparing for next week’s postseason conference tournament.
The coaching instability started when Robin Harmony left after last season to become the head coach at Division I Lamar University.
She was replaced by Desma Thomas, who resigned — without ever coaching a game at St. Thomas — to take a job as an assistant at South Florida.
Finally, Grimsley, who had never been a head coach before, took over the team fairly late — she was hired July 29. But after a rough start in nonconference games, Grimsley and the Bobcats turned it around.
And, despite the coaching turmoil, here’s what connects the past three Bobcats coaches — they are all former Miami Hurricanes players.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats’ men’s basketball team (22-5, 15-2) also clinched first place in the conference and is ranked 11th nationally in NAIA Division II.
Led by second-year coach Patrick Gayle, the Bobcats have four wins in the past month over teams ranked in the top 11 nationally.
Among Gayle’s best players is 5-6 senior guard Kevin Hincapie, who recently scored a career-high 29 points, leads the team in assists and is averaging 2.9 steals. The team’s leading scorer is 6-1 senior guard Floyd Battle (15.2).
But Gayle said the glue to the team is 6-4 junior forward Lorel Beckford, who showed his toughness recently by coming back after having been elbowed in the face in two consecutive games.
“On the second one, his tooth was hanging out — it looked like he had been in a fight real bad,” said Gayle, who starts four seniors and a junior.
As a freshman two years ago, ex-UM point guard Shane Larkin, who went on to become an NBA first-round pick, averaged 7.4 points, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals. He shot .360 from the floor, .323 from three-point range and .857 from the foul line.
As a freshman this season, UM point guard Manu Lecomte is averaging 7.8 points, 2.4 assists and 0.6 steals. He is shooting .413 from the floor, .396 from three-point range and .778 from the foul line.
Those are encouraging numbers for Lecomte. But, Larkin made a huge leap his next year, and it remains to be seen if Lecomte can keep pace. As a sophomore, Larkin averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals, shooting .479 from the floor, .406 on three-pointers and .777 from the foul line.
Guard Deric Hill on Wednesday broke the school’s 20-year-old single-season record for assists with 179 and the 27-year-old single-season mark for steals with 64.
Sophomore Emma Onila was named the Sunshine State Conference Women’s Tennis Player of the Week for the second week in a row.
Ranking second in Conference USA in scoring, FIU’s softball team won eight of its first 10 games for the second-best start in program history.