GREAT FALLS — The University of Providence women’s basketball team opens practice for the 2019-20 season looking to build off a trip to the NAIA national tournament, and the Argos return some solid pieces that should make things interesting.
They went 18-14 with some key upset wins over ranked opponents, including Carroll College and eventual national champion Montana Western.
"I like the experience we bring back. And right now, for the first couple days, the girls are coming out, their effort and energy has been great," head coach Bill Himmelberg said. "We have a lot of good young kids who have just done a lot of nice things for us so far, so it’s going to be interesting to see how they continue to develop for us."
Though they made it to nationals, the Argos struggled in conference play, finishing with a 7-11 Frontier Conference record. One problem: the absence of Jenna Randich, the lone true senior on the team this year. Randich played in just 11 games last year before tearing her ACL in December. Now, in the first full week of practice, she’s cleared to play.
"I had surgery on New Year’s Eve, actually, so I brought in 2019 the best way possible. It was a long process," Randich said. "Half of it was a mental battle. I worked really hard this summer. I was in the gym two or three times a day, lifting, working out, just getting ready to have a great senior season and have a great season with all my girls."
"She’s a big piece. Getting her back and having the leadership she’s going to provide is going to be really important for our whole squad," Himmelberg said. "She knows what I want, she’s been here all four years, she’s been a starter most of the time, so having her back is a big piece of what we’re trying to do and accomplish. She’s going to lead all those younger girls that we have."
The Argos also add Bailey Cartwright, a graduate transfer from Concordia University Portland and sister to UP sophomore Kenedy Cartwright. Combined with all-American junior Parker Esary, the Argos figure to be a top contender in the Frontier Conference this season.
UP opens its season Oct. 25 at home against the University of Lethbridge.