ISU Women Ball 1

Newcomers to the ISU women's team include (left to right) Del'Janae Williams, Leandra Echi, Hattie Westerfield and Alyssa Robben.

The Indiana State women’s basketball team comes into the 2019-20 season with a chip on their shoulder as they are ranked ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll. The Sycamores are looking to bounce back from a 11-19 season as they open this year on the road at Kansas.

They will have to get used to playing on the road due to the reconstruction of the Hulman Center. They have a total of seven away games before playing in Terre Haute in front of their home crowd for the first time on Dec. 3, when they will host Marshall of Conference USA. Indiana State plays five regular away games and a two-game tournament in Stockton, Calif., during that away stretch.

Indiana State Head Basketball Coach Vicki Hall is in her second season. She had previously been the associate head coach at Toledo for seven years before becoming the head coach at Indiana State. She is experienced as a coach and was a star player as she collected the Indiana Miss Basketball Honoree in 1988.

“The ultimate message has been to come together as a family. We’re working with a lot of new players so we just have to communicate and stay on the same page,” Hall stated.

The team is coming into this season with a new roster. They have eight freshmen and six transfers. Junior guard Marie Hunter played for the nationally ranked Wabash Valley Community College where she earned All-region and All-conference awards.

“We hang out at each other’s houses and do homework with each other and stuff to bond,” Hunter explained about building communication. “We look at each other as a family though and that’s going to help when we’re playing in those away games.”

Freshman guard Sommer Pitzer is also another player to watch. The Columbus, Ohio product was an ESPNW collegiate girls Top 250 Recruit. She also was a three-time conference player of the year during her time at Westerville South High School.

In the paint the Sycamores recruited Alyssa Robben, who also was an ESPNW Collegiate Girls Top 200 Recruit. The 6-foot-4 center averaged 5.6 rebounds in high school and was a 2018 all-state honoree. She was the class president of her senior class and was a national honor society member.

Hall and Sycamores won their first game of the year last season 62-53 in West Virginia against Marshall. Kansas, their first opponent this season is coming off of a 13-18 season and have already played exhibitions against other teams. They are ranked first in the preseason Big 12 rankings.

Hall made a good move during the offseason to hire Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame honoree Alan Vickrey as an assistant coach. Vickery coached three All-Americans, eight Indiana All-Stars and two Miss Indiana Basketball honorees, one of them happens to be Hall. He was Vicki Hall’s head coach in high school and has also been inducted into the Decatur Central Hall of Fame. He plans on coaching for Indiana State this season then plans on taking the time to enjoy retirement.

Conference play starts in Normal, Illinois, against the Illinois State Redbirds. Indiana State beat the Redbirds in Terre Haute last season 59-44 but later in the season they fell to Illinois State in Normal 78-70. They see the Redbirds on Dec. 3 in Normal. They end conference play in Terre Haute at the Hulman Center against Illinois St. Their first two conference games are away at Illinois schools while their first home MVC game is against the Valparaiso Crusader.

“Communication is such an important key to success that’s why being a family is important,” ki Hall stated about the keys to success.

They have two players that have chemistry from being teammates at Wabash Valley CC. Marie Hunter and sophomore guard Pearl Dean both transferred out of Wabash Valley. Dean is a product of Ohio and she stands at 6-foot-3.

Sommer Pitzer played for All Ohio, the same Amateur Athletic Union basketball team as freshman guard Jasmine Elder, who is from Kentucky and was an all-state player and a ESPNW Top 170 recruit.