Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

New Transfers Add Excitement and Identity for Women’s Basketball

Jordie Simpson
Seattle U women’s basketball players passing the ball with a watchful crowd.

After a 6-23 season, Seattle University Women’s Basketball saw their top five scorers from last season enter the transfer portal. The transfer portal, which allows student-athletes to announce their intention to transfer to another institution, has caused complete roster overhauls for some of the biggest college programs in the country. For Seattle U, it was no different—the team was left with just two players rostered at the beginning of the offseason. Many of the players on the roster had been here before the arrival of first-year head coach Skyler Young, and the moves may have left fans wondering why so many players had left. 

“I gave everybody the option (to stay) but I laid out how difficult it would be to play here at the elite level we want to and where we’re going to be,” Young said.

A full offseason with Young at the helm has allowed the team to rebuild through the transfer portal and establish a new identity for a program that has not had a winning season since they made the NCAA tournament in 2018. The team has been busy both in the portal and through high school recruiting, adding seven new players since the end of the season. Their moves were balanced, as they added four guards in Graduate Student Taisiya Kozlova, Redshirt Sophomore Olivia Moore, Freshman Lucy Larson and Senior Sydnie Rodriguez, as well as three forwards in Redshirt Senior Tamia Stricklin, Graduate Student Christeina Bryan and Senior Sophie Benharouga. 

Although the needs of a team change over time, Young had an intangible trait in mind for his new recruits: fearlessness.

“I don’t recruit players that are in fear, the first thing they said is we come here to win and play professional basketball,” Young said. 

In terms of roster-building, establishing a defensive identity through the portal was a priority, as the team finished last in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in scoring defense last season

“Our length will give teams more trouble with the scoring and that’s what I’m accustomed to,” Young said. “Now I feel we have the athletes that will be able to put that mentality and philosophy in place.” 

Redshirt Sophomore guard Sheridan Liggett and Senior guard Julianna Walker were the only two players to stay through the eventful offseason. Their return will be key to helping an offense that finished eighth in the WAC in scoring a season ago. Liggett, who missed all last season with an injury, sees the dynamic potential of this roster and is excited “to play at a faster pace this year.”

Walker, who is entering her third year at Seattle U, averaged 8.3 points per game last season and believes this new group of players will lead the program back to success.

“We’ve been more than capable of winning. With the pieces that we have now, it’ll definitely happen now,” Walker said. 

The expectations for winning will soon change, as Seattle U will join the West Coast Conference (WCC) in 2025. The WCC is home to programs like Gonzaga and Portland, who both made the NCAA Tournament this past season. It will be a higher level of competition for the program and a potential pathway for players to make it to the professional level—the conference had two players drafted in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

But even with one more year left in the WAC, Young believes there is no pressure to win it all.

“There’s no such thing as pressure when you are sure of yourself,” Young said. “My expectation is always trying to compete to win, compete to win in the WAC this year, why not try to win the whole thing but it’s no such thing as pressure.” 

Liggett shares that belief, noting the reputational benefits that could come with winning the WAC before beginning WCC play.

“I think it’d be great (to win) especially as we’re moving into a new conference next year. It’ll give us some confidence that we have the ability to compete in that conference and to excel, just make our presence known,” Liggett said.

While the pressure is not on Young and his players, the move up to the new conference shines a bigger spotlight on the team to build a program that can compete. Young, Liggett and Walker will all play a key part in building this team from the bottom up. To Young, that means everything.

“It’s like if you actually get into the dirt and build your home, it’s always going to mean more being a foundational piece,” Young said.

The Redhawks will continue to round out that foundation as summer approaches and they prepare for their final season in the WAC this fall.

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Jordie Simpson, Staff Photographer

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