Head coach Tracy Sanders returns for her second season at the helm after nearly tripling the team’s win total in 2018-19. Sanders brings back a talented group looking to capitalize on the potential they showed last season.
The T-Birds won their first Big Sky Conference Tournament game since 2013-14 when the made the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
Rebecca Cardenas and Ashley Larsen return for their senior seasons. Cardenas is a scrappy player who does all of the little things like hustling and defending well. When she’s feeling it she’s hard to stop on the ball as well. Cardenas shot 44% from three point range last season.
Cardenas led the team in rebounds (she’s listed at 5’5”), assists and steals per game last season. She’s the team’s leader and their engine. When she’s making plays on offense and locking down the opponent’s best guard, SUU can play with anybody.
Larsen is an experienced big who rebounds and scores around the basket well. She finished fourth on the team in PPG and second in RPG. Larsen is a force defensively who led the team in blocks (1.2 per game) last season.
Harley Hansen returns as the team’s best pure scorer. Hansen led the team in PPG and showed confidence in her first Division I season. The Snow College transfer is a great option for Sanders to run off of screens and helps to space the floor.
Hansen struggled to score consistently, but when the points came they came in bunches. She put up 28 points on Weber State and 21 against Utah Valley last season.
Hannah Robins made five starts for the T-Birds before losing the rest of the season to a shoulder injury. Robins was a highly touted recruit but struggled to find her footing in her freshman season.
If Robins is healthy and engaged, then she’s the team’s best scoring option down low. Sanders will turn to Robins in the post often. Her position in the starting five isn’t as solid as the first three listed here, and adjusting after losing a season to injury is always difficult.
The last starting spot is up for grabs. If Sanders wants to use a bigger lineup she can start Jessica Chatman (fourth on the team in RPG), Megan Kamps (led team in FG%) or Darri Frandsen.
Frandsen played two years at SUU before leaving on an LDS mission in 2017. She hasn’t played D-I basketball in two years, but offers good size and another scoring option for Sanders’ squad.
Sophomore Claudia Armato will play primarily as the backup point guard, but can play off the ball alongside Cardenas and will likely starting action this season. Senior guard Kiana Thomas is a viable wing option who excels in grabbing offensive rebounds. University of San Francisco transfer Rebecca Black will see a lot of playing time as well.
Cardenas, Larsen and Hansen make up the core of the team, and everyone else will fill in around them.
Freshman forward Shaylyn Fano headlines the batch incoming freshman. Fano was named first team All-State in Utah’s 4A division in 2018 and 2019. She started all four years at Timpview High. Of the freshmen, she’ll have the greatest impact, and may even find her way into the starting lineup this season.
Fellow freshmen Madelyn Eaton should see significant minutes as a backup guard. Eaton was 6A first team All-State in her senior year at Lone Peak High School.
Freshmen Halle Livingston and Alexa Lord will have reserve roles to play and provide depth for the team.
SUU finished in the bottom of the conference in PPG, but improved over their 2017-18 numbers. The influx of new talent will spark the team and another year of experience should translate to some offensive success.
Bre Reid is the only major contributor not returning to the team. Reid was second on the team in PPG and took 18% of the team’s shots last season. When the shot clock was winding down Reid was the T-Birds best one on one option, and she’ll be missed in those moments.
Potential Starting Lineup:
Rebecca Cardenas – Senior – 18-19 Stats: 35.8 MPG, 11.1 PPG, 3.7 APG, 6.8 RPG
Harley Hansen – Senior – 18-19 Stats: 31.2 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 0.9 APG, 4.6 RPG
Jessica Chatman – R Junior – 18-19 Stats: 24,5 MPG, 6.9 PPG, 0.7 APG, 4.2 RPG
Ashley Larsen – R Senior – 18-19 Stats: 22.4 MPG, 9.0 PPG, 0.6 APG, 5.1 RPG
Hannah Robins – Sophomore – 18-19 Stats1: 18.5 MPG, 4.4 PPG, 0.5 APG, 4.5 RPG
Claudia Armato – Sophomore – 18-19 Stats: 21.8 MPG, 3.3 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 RPG
Darri Frandsen – Junior – 16-17 Stats (2): 27.0 MPG, 12.5 PPG, 1.0 APG, 8.0 RPG
Rebecca Black – R Sophomore – 18-19 Stats (3): None
Kiana Thomas – Senior – 18-19 Stats: 14.2 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 0.6 AGP, 2.8 RPG
Megan Kamps – R Junior – 18-19 Stats: 17.4 MPG, 4.2 PPG, 0.4 APG, 2.0 RPG
Shalyn Fano – Freshman – 18-19 Stats (4) : 19.6 PPG, 2.8 APG, 9.7 RPG, 1.4 SPG
Madelyn Eaton – Freshman – 18-19 Stats (5) : 19.2 PPG, 2.8 APG, 7.5 RPG, 2.4 SPG
Reserves: Alexa Lord (Fr.), Margarita Santini (Fr.), Halle Livingston (Fr.)
1: Robins played 11 games before injury
2: Frandsen was on an LDS mission for the 17-18 and 18-19 seasons.
3: Black transferred from University of San Francisco and did not make any appearances.
4: Fano’s Timpview High School stats
5: Eaton’s Lone Peak High School stats
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photos by: SUU Athletics and Mitchell Quartz