The Lamar Cardinals saw an improvement in conference play in head coach Aqua Franklin’s second year. Lamar was 9-6 in Southland Conference play, much better than 10-14 the preview season. Three of Lamar’s six losses came in overtime (Abilene Christian, Sam Houston State, and Nicholls State). Not long ago (’18-’19), the Cardinals posted a 17-win Southland regular season campaign. So, this is a program with recent success looking to get back to where they were under Robin Harmony’s tenure. Lamar did post a win over current WAC member Tarleton State (73-58) and two losses to Texas A&M (77-61 & 80-63) in non-conference play last season.
Aqua Franklin, 3rd season
At Lamar: 20-33 Overall, 15-20 Southland Conference
2020-21: 10-14 Overall, 9-6 Southland Conference (4th place)
Postseason: Lost in Southland Conference tournament quarterfinals
Jaydn Pimentell, 5-3, SR, G (UTSA)
Brooklyn Mitchell, 5-6, SR, G (Kansas)
NJ Weems, 6-1, JR, F (JUCO)
Micaela Wilson, 6-1, GR, F
Bebe Galloway, 5-11, SO, C
Sabria Dean, 5-7, SO, G
Predicted WAC Finish
Franklin will have First Team Southland Conference selection Micaela Wilson back (12.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 23 Steals, 32.6% 3 point shooter (14/43) & 105/236 total (44.5%) for the inaugural WAC season. Angel Hastings led the team with 20 3-point makes a year ago and is also returning along with Bebe Galloway, the team’s leading rebounder at 6.8 boards per game while averaging 7.8 points per game.
By the numbers, Franklin and her staff will have to address a defense that allowed teams to shoot 42.7 percent overall and 31.0 percent from 3-point land to be competitive. On the year, Lamar was -5.67 in scoring margin and -6.3 in total rebounding.
Lamar has a turnover margin of -86. But to keep up with offenses like CBU and Stephen F. Austin, improvement is needed from 3-point land (110/379 29.0%) and the field as a whole (529/1397 37.9%). Lamar has to improve on a 61.6 PPG scoring average from last year.
It was announced last month that Brooklyn Mitchell, a 5-6 guard from New Orleans with prior collegiate experience at Kansas, would be joining the Cardinals for 2021-22. In 80 games as a Jayhawk, Mitchell averaged 5.4 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. Mitchell’s career-high of 24 points came against Florida Atlantic in 2019.
In a Lamar press release Franklin said about the addition, “Brooklyn is an elite competitor with power five experience. She will provide depth to our guard position. On paper, we are the most talented we’ve been since the start of our coaching campaign at Lamar. We are excited about the potential of this team and Brooklyn adds to that.”