After a season of growth, the Charlotte 49ers women's basketball team comes into the 2021-22 season with high expectations and thoughts of championship gold. The team looks to build toward the future by putting the program on the map.
The 49ers are coming off a season of uncertainty filled with ups and downs. The team finished 10-12 and 9-5 in conference a year ago and will look to add to that total this season. Head Coach Cara Consuegra has high expectations for the team that looks to take the next step.
"We are confident in who we are," said head coach Cara Consuegra. "We know that the roster is deep, and I feel like we have some of the best talent, but our approach doesn't change because we are focused on the process."
Charlotte brings back many vital parts of their rotation for the upcoming season. The team is also reloaded with multiple transfers who will bring leadership and expertise to a squad on the brink of greatness. The 49ers are excited to get back on the court as they look to pick up where they left off.
Building off last season
The 49ers played well in a hectic season for the team but are ready to take it to the next level in 2021. The team had some big wins a year ago and got to test themselves against top-notch competition in North Carolina and Clemson. The team will look to build off last season by bringing the intensity on both sides of the ball.
"We grew a ton from last year," said Consuegra. "We had our fair share of adversity last year, but we had to grow and embrace that adversity. We have learned that no matter what happens, we are capable and confident."
The team turned the corner in conference play last season, going 9-5 and earning the second seed in the East division. Old Dominion defeated the 49ers in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament, and the team is ready to avenge that loss this season. The 49ers played in the WNIT and gained some much-needed post-season experience.
The upcoming season is fast approaching, and the 49ers are ready to cut down on mistakes to produce at a high level. Charlotte got the sweet-tasting of playing into late March in the WNIT, but the team wants to go further by making it to the NCAA tournament. Keep an eye on this team to take lessons learned into the new year to accomplish great things.
The 49ers schedule has a great mix of intriguing matchups that will challenge the squad. Charlotte will start their season on Nov. 9 against the Richmond Spiders in Richmond, VA. The long season is right around the corner, and the team will hope to start the year off right.
Charlotte will get to test themselves against some tough competition. The schedule is highlighted by matchups against Wake Forest, West Virginia and Davidson. Circled on the calendar for the 49ers is the showdown against the North Carolina Tarheels on Nov. 14 in Halton Arena.
The 49ers return their top two scorers from a year ago, and they will look to produce at a high level once again. Fifth-year senior Octavia Jett-Wilson and senior Jada McMillian will be the dynamic duo for the team. Jett-Wilson averaged 21 points per game last season, while McMillian averaged 16 points and five assists.
"They have already stepped up," said Consuegra. "The journey didn't come easy for them, but they have grown and learned. They have done an excellent job of playing to their strengths and being great teammates."
Both players racked up multiple prestigious awards in the off-season. In what should be a big season for her, Jett-Wilson was named to the C-USA preseason team and Preseason Co-Player of the year. McMillian was also named to the preseason team as she will also be critical to the team's success.
The future is bright for these two players, and they will look to leave their legacy on the program that has given them so much. The time is now, and both players are excited for what is to come.
The 49ers add a combination of transfers and first-year students to the team. The newcomers look to produce at a high level and help the team to get better.
"I do anticipate that a lot of the new faces will have an opportunity to have an impact on both sides of the floor," said Consuegra.
Through the transfer portal, the 49ers added three players that hail from top basketball programs. The team added two redshirt senior guards in Mikayla Boykin, who joins the team from Duke, and Kameron Roach, who comes from Kentucky. Charlotte also added fifth-year forward Keke McKinney from Kentucky as well.
Three freshmen will join the team in the brand new recruiting class. The addition of guards Aylesha Wade and Nia Young as well as forward Mya McGraw. These first-year players will look to make their mark early in their young careers.
Optimism for a new season:
There is a renewed optimism around the women's basketball program as the team looks to reach new heights. Charlotte is ranked first in the C-USA preseason poll, which has eyes on the program. The team has the target on their back, but they are ready to rise to the challenge.
"I want this team to grow and get better, but I want them to enjoy the process," said Consuegra. "I want us to be able to come together to compete at a high level."
In what should be a relatively "normal" season, the 49ers have their eyes set on the goal of reaching the conference championship game and the NCAA tournament.