#HLWBB Starting Five: Mawwiage is What Bwings Us Togevah Today Edition


Welcome to the Starting Five, your rundown of the key stories in from the past…however long it took to come up with five stories since the previous Starting Five.

1. Blunt and Chappell find new homes

In the present state of college basketball, the transfer portal is typically more clogged than a bag of M&Ms left in a car during the summer, but two outgoing Horizon League transfers held my attention more than most during this cycle.

One was Taylor Blunt. The Morgantown, PA native signed with Detroit Mercy and then-coach AnnMarie Gilbert (that’s right, AnnMarie Gilbert) back in 2020. A couple months later, the Titans’ 2020-21 season shut down amidst abuse allegations against Gilbert, and every single one of UDM’s players left the team (notably including Sylare Starks, who found a much better situation to close her career at Purdue Fort Wayne).

But, even while Detroit Mercy’s roster was essentially a 404 page, Blunt inexplicably kept her commitment. Irene Murua was the first new player to sign on after the Gilbert fallout, but Blunt technically predated her and was a surviving link to that period. She redshirted in 2021-22 when interim coach LaTanya Collins ran the bench, briefly entered the portal last summer, thought better of it, then played sparingly for Kate Achter last season and finally decided to leave for good. On June 14th, she turned up at Rider, carrying far more experience than most who have a similar amount of playing time to their name.

Former Wright State guard Channing Chappell has lived a similar tale of rare stickiness, followed by an exit regardless. She was a bit player on the Raiders’ 2020-21 Horizon League championship team that upset Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (which seems a lot longer ago than it actually was). Katrina Merriweather and her staff left for Memphis after that, but Chappell remained at WSU through not one, but two offseasons of mass roster upheaval to begin the Kari Hoffman era. She played a ton in 2021-22 when she was one of the few true deep threats Hoffman had available, then saw her minutes cut drastically last year when pretty much every Raider (an exaggeration, but not by much) shot 35 percent or better from three and decided to check out of the Nutter Center.

Last week, Chappell signed with Division II Lynn University as a grad transfer. Coincidentally, Lynn plays in the Sunshine State Conference, a league that also includes Nova Southeastern – the new home of former Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodon Aubrey Stupp.

2. They’re not booing, they’re saying “Bruuuuuuuce”

I’m not sure that it’s possible to be better at first impressions than IUPUI coach Kate Bruce.

To recap, Bruce arrived in Indianapolis last offseason after six years and a ridiculous .757 win percentage at Walsh University, replacing the also-very-successful Austin Parkinson. Though she retained a talented group of players in 2022-23, the Jags nevertheless lost four-time conference player of the year Macee Williams and highly-underrated Rachel McLimore. In that context, a 17-13 overall record that included a win over Parkinson, McLimore and Butler, as well as flirtations with the upper regions of the Horizon League standings, exceeded expectations by quite a lot.

Skip ahead a bit, and Luke Bosso officially took over as IUPUI’s athletic director on June 19th, replacing Roderick Perry. Eight days later, the school announced a contract extension for Bruce, through 2026-27. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never received a contract extension or a raise or anything like that less than two weeks after getting a new boss. Mostly, I’m trying to not break anything and avoid getting fired for at least a couple months.

Incidentally, we spoke with Bosso about his women’s basketball coach and other things on the most recent episode of the podcast, so please give that a listen when you’re able.

3. Oakland receives Roberts-Adams pledge

Jeff Tungate landed his first known 2024 prospect on June 26th when Chicago native Sereniti Roberts-Adams decided that she wanted to be a Golden Grizzly.

I ain’t reading all that. I’m happy for u tho. Or sorry that happened.

Roberts-Adams is 6-3, and her scouting report reads about how you’d expect, given that information. Here’s Prep Girls Hoops after seeing her in December (coincidentally, the viewing took place about a week before Oakland’s offer became public, so make your own assumptions there):

“Adams was a huge factor in the paint on Saturday. So much so that I don’t think her numbers did justice to her influence on the game as a whole. By controlling the lane, she often forced her opponents to settle for extended mid range jumpers and 3 point shots. When Adams did get a look at the rim, it was almost guaranteed to be a very high percentage scoring opportunity. She rebounded the ball high and extended possessions by working the offensive glass.

Seems like the Butler College Prep senior could fill what’s been a pretty significant need for the Grizzlies, who have had tons of talented guards and wings in recent seasons but very little to make opponents respect the paint.

4. Shelton joins Panthers staff

Last week, Milwaukee added Courtney Shelton as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Shelton, essentially, is a replacement for DéRonté Polite, who left Kyle Rechlicz’s staff in May to become the head coach at Hood College.

If you’re a Cleveland State fan suddenly worried about replacing two assistant coaches in July, Shelton offers a pretty strong dose of encouragement, given her qualifications and late-June hiring date. She played collegiately at Northern Illinois, where she averaged 9.1 points and 3.8 assists per game as a senior in 2011-12. Since then, she’s mostly been at a different MAC school, Central Michigan, where she started out as a video coordinator after graduation. Following a couple years at Northwood University, she then returned to the Chippewas for a six-season run, helping what’s long been a top mid-major program to four NCAA Tournament bids, including a Sweet 16 run in 2018.

“We really needed to hire someone that could hit the ground running and Courtney was a perfect fit for us,” Rechlicz said in Milwaukee’s release. “She is detailed oriented, highly competitive, and has great knowledge of the game. I’m looking forward to having our athletes work with her this season and beyond.”

5. Meet Coach Volz

Belated congratulations are in order to Northern Kentucky coach Camryn Whitaker, who apparently got married a couple months ago.

One of the weirder challenges unique to women’s sports is that suddenly, without warning, those in the know will start talking about (in this case) a Coach Volz. And the average person, who is very cool and very normal and doesn’t snoop on people will be all confused and like “wait, who’s that?” Then a quick Google later, they’re like “ohhhhhh okay.” Fortunately, that one doesn’t come up too often with college student-athletes, though it occasionally does with those a bit older in various pro leagues. And coaches, obviously.

So anyway, Coach Volz is Coach Whitaker, adjust your internal settings accordingly. And she will be in amazing shape should she want the Tennessee job, if and when it opens up.

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Cleveland State MBA student and marketing manager by day, #HLWBB by night (and sometimes by day too, don't tell my boss). Follow me on Twitter for regular news and updates from CSU and around the league when there isn't a post covering it, and I'll see you at your favorite Horizon League arena soon.

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