Rebuilding, growing pains, and tough luck are just a few ways to describe the 2014-15 UTEP Women's basketball season.
Coming off a magical WNIT run, and losing the best player in program history hit the Miners hard last season, but plenty of growth, and new faces emerged despite the first sub .500 season since 2010 under Keitha Adams.
"Our returners and our veterans we really look to lead by example." Keitha Adams said. "It's a nice mix, it's good to have the new players we have. They bring some help to us that we need, and its also great having the experience with our returners. It's a very nice mix."
UTEP will return three major producers who have proven themselves as leaders in the past couple of seasons, mixed with plenty of familiar faces who saw significant action last season.
The best player on the floor for the Orange and Blue last season was senior Cameasha Turner who reached double-figure scoring numbers 20 times last year. She also set career highs with a 27-point scoring output against NMSU and had a season and career high 13 rebounds against Southern Miss.
The missing firepower needed to help Turner who had a breakout season were in street clothes last year, but the missing pair are ready for a big year this coming season despite the Miners being picked to finish 5th in C-USA.
Jenzel Nash returns from missing last season due to a pregnancy. Nash has worked her way back into top-shape and will form a scary back court scoring tandem with Turner.
Also returning is rebounding magnet, and senior forward Chrishaunna Parker who returns from multiple concussions suffered last season.
"When you're out for a while its kind of like riding a bike." Adams said of Parker's and Nash's return. "You're a little bit rusty, and your rhythm and your timing is probably off."
"It's just a matter of getting the rust off and getting back into shape. Jenzel has done a great job of getting herself into good shape. She looks great and is very thin after having a baby."
In her only minutes of action last year, Parker grabbed six rebounds in just 14 minutes against NMSU. Parker averaged 8.8 rebounds her junior year, and scored in double figures in 12 games en-route to the WNIT finals.
UTEP also returns six players who all contributed and saw plenty of significant playing time last season.
Junior Sparkle Taylor averaged 10.3 points per game last year in an increased role. The Flint, Michigan native notched double digit scoring numbers 11 times last season, and brings an efficient offensive game from the wing.
Taylor along with sophomore post Dashianna McCants, and second year guard Lulu McKinney became UTEP's go-to-girls towards the end of the season.
McCants, and McKinney both improved greatly as the season wore on. McCants pulled 100 rebounds, 54 of which came on the offensive boards, and McKinney was named to the 2015 C-USA All-Freshman Team.
The experience those two freshman gained a year ago will greatly help out this current squad.
"Our defense is ahead of our offense." Adams said. "Our offense right now we're just trying to get in sync with one another and that takes time."
Sharpshooting senior Anete Kristeine returns along with 6'3 senior post Agata Dobrowolksa. Both saw a good amount of playing time last season, and will add productive depth at their respective positions.
Two JUCO transfers also provided some good production last year in Lawana Kennedy and Rudian Eduardo who will both be seniors this season.
Both bring added size and athletic ability that will be another form of firepower Keitha Adams' group could bring this season.
But the depth doesn't stop there.
Starr Breedlove who sat out last year due to transfer rules is eligible to help this season, and Keitha Adams is high on 6'4 JUCO transfer Tamara Seda.
Breedlove is a senior transfer from Louisville who will provide speed, and depth at the point guard spot. Seda was ranked as the 20th overall JUCO prospect in the county, and will be force on the boards, and protecting the paint.
"We've definitely added some size with having Tamara Seda, and Wiktoria Zapart the 6'2 post player from Poland." Adams said. "Those two big's give us a presence in the paint. We did feel like we are more athletic. Those three additions really jump out to this year 's team."
Last season despite the losses, the lack of depth, and the disappointment; Keitha Adams truly stayed the course of developing this team into what it could be this year.
What is that you might ask?
This team has the potential to be another special group, barring injuries or things out of human control.
With Adams at the helm anything is possible, but with offensive firepower, depth, speed, and size....a special season could be very possible come March.