Albrey Grimsley, who last week was named the Sun Conference Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year, said she expects St. Thomas University to compete for an NAIA national title next season when the team will bring in eight to 10 players, including a pair of 6-5 centers — one from China and one from Cameroon.
She also has signed a 6-1 junior college transfer who had originally committed to play Division I ball at Pittsburgh.
The Bobcats’ season ended last week in the conference tournament semifinals. But Grimsley, a former University of Miami point guard, considers this past season a “sacrifice” to get to next year’s expected run to glory.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
The Bobcats started this season with 13 players but finished with six. In one game, because of an injury and a foul out, they had only four. With eight coaches on staff, there were twice as many staff members as players in that game, which they lost.
Grimsley, whose team finished 14-10 overall and 13-3 in The Sun Conference, said seven of her players quit because the work required to be on the team exceeded their expectations.
“Everyone wants to win,” Grimsley said. “But they don’t realize how hard it is.”
Of the six players on her current roster, five are set to return next season, including 6-0 junior wing Supavadee Kunchuan, who recently set career highs with 25 points and 16 rebounds. She was the conference’s Newcomer of the Year.
Also due back is the conference’s Freshman of the Year, 5-5 guard Samara Auguste.
The Bobcats, who were one accurate throw to first base away from knocking off the Miami Hurricanes last week in what would have been a monumental upset, are off to an 11-9 start.
Coach Jorge Perez said he has been impressed with senior Oscar Aguirre, who leads the team with four homers. One of his home runs came on an 0-2 pitch against Canes freshman Andrew Cabezas.
Aguirre, a switch-hitter, made the unusual decision of hitting right-handed against the right-hander Cabezas, and it worked.
“Cabezas is really good — nasty — and this is one of the best teams Miami has had,” Perez said. “But Cabezas hung a curve ball, his only bad pitch, and Oscar pulled it.”
Aguirre’s three-run blast gave the Bobcats the lead, but UM rallied for a 7-6 win in 10 innings.
Perez said his players were “really hurting” after the loss but have since rebounded. The Bobcats are ranked second nationally and are looking to return to the NAIA title game for the second season in a row.
The University of Miami’s women’s tennis team, which spent the first two months of the season ranked between 11th and 13th nationally, has slipped to No. 21 after a pair of bitter road defeats last weekend. Miami lost 4-3 at No. 3 North Carolina and 4-3 at No. 6 Duke.
Earlier this season, on a neutral court, Miami lost 4-3 to No. 5 Texas Tech and 4-2 to No. 4 Michigan.
Miami’s next four matches are at home, including March 16 vs. top-ranked Ohio State. After that, Miami has three more matches against top-25 teams: No. 16 Virginia, No. 19 Clemson and No. 24 Syracuse.
In the four matches in which Miami (6-4) has been beaten, the doubles point was lost three times. Miami’s best players in those matches were senior Stephanie Wagner (3-1), sophomore Silvia Fuentes (3-1) and sophomore Sinead Lohan (2-1).