After coming off of an impressive season and a conference championship in the Great South Atlantic Conference, the Maryville College women’s basketball team has many new obstacles to overcome. This year’s squad has not changed much internally, as they bring back seven key contributors from last year’s championship run — five of which are seniors. However, externally, the Lady Scots will be facing many new challenges in the USA South Conference, which has, in recent years, sent teams to the Final Four, as well as the Elite Eight. Maryville head coach Darrin Travillian is more than aware of the stiffer completion coming up.
“Night in and night out you are going to play good competition in the USA South,” Travillian said. Travillian said that the non-conference schedule has been beefed up to prepare for the tough conference competition. The Lady Scots have four top 25 teams in the nation awaiting them on their schedule, but Travillian thinks his team is ready for the challenge and can compete with anyone on the schedule.
“I feel like I have a good, veteran team that can go and compete with anybody,” Travillian said. The Lady Scots bring back enough experience to be successful in the new conference, having the five seniors who Travillian says will be looked to for leadership. “We are going to rely heavily on our seniors to lead,” Travillian said. They are the people who know what the expectations are.
They are the ones that come in and do it right every day.” One senior that the Lady Scots will look to on the hardwood is team captain Janell Menard. This Loudon, Tenn. native has earned GSAC all-conference honors the past two seasons, as well as a spot on the freshman all-conference team during her rookie season. Being the leading scorer the last two years, the Lady Scots will be looking for her to produce points and be the go to player in primetime situations. Travillian said Menard is a player that wants the ball in those types of situations. Another player expected to make a key contribution in hopes of another conference title run is team captain Tayler Smith. Smith is also a two time all-conference player and has a field goal percentage in the 50s from the floor. Travillian says Smith is a tireless worker and a talented athlete, as she plays the front of the Scots’ press, and is also able to go down in the post. Another senior that Travillian terms as a crucial part of the team is Kiera Payne.
Payne excels at beating defenders and getting to the rim. According to Travillian, Payne is probably the best overall athlete on the team. Even though Payne can score for herself, she is unselfish and gets others open looks at the basket. Menard, Smith, and Payne are each closing in on the 900-1,000-career point range, as well as the 500- career rebound mark. “They have obviously been pretty crucial to our play here,” Travillian said. Other players to look out for are Lauren Burnett and Alex Bond. These two round up the starting five for Travillian’s squad.
Burnett plays the point guard position and has the ability to run the team. Bond, a freshman all-conference performer last season, stabilizes the defense and is a threat from the three point line. Although the competition is tougher and the team has had recent success, the goals of this year’s team have not changed in any way. The Lady Scots have 18 banners hanging up inside of Cooper Athletic center for NCAA appearances, and they look to make that number 19 by the time this season is over.