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Baylor Women's Basketball

Nicki Collen and the Bears preview the season at Big 12 Media Days

October 19, 2022
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On Tuesday at the T-Mobile Arena in Kansas City, MO the Big 12 Women’s basketball media day got underway. Baylor was represented by head coach Nicki Collen and a trio of players — Ja’Mee Asberry, Sarah Andrews and Caitlin Bickle. 

Asberry started her day off by earning a spot on the 2023 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List. The award is given each year to the top shooting guard in women’s NCAA Division I college basketball. 

One area where Asberry excels is on the defensive end of the court. Last season she accounted for 47 steals, 90 rebounds, and 3 blocks. When asked about the importance of playing smart transition basketball this season, she reverted to defense.

“It starts with defense for us to go into transition. I think that when we pressure the ball and rotate right, I think that transition would be easier to run past our man once we got a steal,” said Asberry. “I think that wide-open layups are great, that wins a lot of games.”

Coming into this season Baylor finds itself in somewhat unfamiliar territory. The Bears were picked fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll behind Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma, while starting the season ranked 18th in the AP poll.

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Nicki Collen didn’t shy away from the situation, in fact, she feels like her team is embracing being the underdog.

“I'm super proud of our resiliency last year, our resilience in dealing with a limited roster in handling the expectations of playing great basketball when the season ended,” said Collen. “I think we have to own the underdog role a little bit this year and this idea that we’re going to have to put the pieces together. We’re going to continue to, as cliche as it sounds, trust the process to really grow individually and collectively.”

Heading into this season Baylor will need new leaders to emerge, with the loss of NyLassa Smith and Queen Egbo to the WNBA. One upperclassman that is ready to step into that role is senior forward Catlin Bickle.

Bickle understands that the task at hand won’t be easy, but she believes that the obstacles of the past couple of years have made this group more cohesive.

“I think the biggest challenge for us last year was making sure we came together instead of trying to deal with our losses or when we got hit by COVID or every obstacle that we face we really tried to focus on, it's just us,” said Bickle. “We don’t have a lot returning this season, and a lot of new players have to learn Coach Nicki’s system, but we have to make sure everyone stays connected.”

For Sarah Andrews, she enters the season as a member of the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, joining fellow teammates Aijha Blackwell and Darianna Littlepage-Buggs. Last season, she averaged 11.1 points in 31.9 minutes per game and led the Bears in three-point percentage, now she’s looking to build on that success this season.

“Last season, I didn't make excuses, you know, going into my sophomore year I knew I was going to do anything to put myself on the court. Whether that is having to change the way I guarded on defense, or get in the gym more,” said Andrews. “Coach Nikki instilled a lot of confidence in me from the jump, especially being our first year together just the way she trusted me was different, and I’m grateful for that.”

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365

 

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Nicki Collen and the Bears preview the season at Big 12 Media Days

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