By Cristhian Plasencia/Asst. Sports Director
With the offseason underway for the Panthers, the coaching staff is looking to improve upon their last year’s weakness by adding the incoming freshmen class.
“We need more of an inside presence, which we are going to get right away with Chelsea Guimaraes. We have expanded her game a bit,” said Head Coach Tiara Malcom. “Coaches worked with her shots in the perimeter, off the dribble, and her outside shot. She’s been working on finishing with either hand.”
Standing at 6’3, the international Portugal player, will give the Panther’s a true center in their starting lineup. FIU struggled having a post presence last season that would extend drives with offensive rebounds.
“With our incoming freshmen, we are going to have more length across the board. Which I thought we struggled matching up in size with our opponents,” said Malcom. “We brought in young tall talent that will help us in that department. Definitely, in all of our guards’ spots, we are looking to increase in size.”
Paris Netherly, coming from Crosby High School (Texas), will fortify FIU’s defense. She was named the 21-5A Defensive Player of the Year. After Alexis Gordon benched for internal reasons, Kayla Rogers and Cabria Lee rotated as the two-guard, but Netherly’s 5’11 frame makes it reasonable to start her since Malcom looks for lengthy guards to defend against opposing wing players.
“I am most excited to be a part of a new family, the pretty campus, facing new challenges and bringing something new to the table for Coach Malcom and the Panthers,” said Netherly at signing day in the Fall.
Kiandre’a Pound absence will be missed in what she contributed from scoring to the post and rebounding. Ce’Nara Skanes, local product of Oklahoma City, will be likely to fall into the fourth spot, teaming up with the Panther’s other frontcourt players.
The six feet forward won the Player of the Year in the Big 10 Conference. She was a First-Team All-Conference selection and a Second-Team All-State performer last season. She averaged a double-double, scored 18.7 points and grabbed 11.6 rebounds.
“When I recruit, I always say I’m not going to guarantee anyone a spot. I recruit off the possibility that you’re going to be able to play a lot of minutes; how much you play or how often you play will be determined by how hard do you work.”
The summer will give the team a chance to see where they are, once all players arrive. Returners spots are not guarantee either. There’s some toughness coming in with this freshmen class that will be able to challenge for a starting position, said Coach Malcom.