For University of Memphis women's basketball coach Melissa McFerrin, keying in on talent will be important for the upcoming basketball season.
"We have eight new faces on our roster and six returners," McFerrin said on Friday night after Memphis Madness at FedExForum.
More than half of the 15,000 Tiger basketball fans were in the building when doors opened at 5:30 p.m. to watch the women's basketball team practice.
The team was later introduced to the crowd. As the players marched down the south-facing stairs, many fans recognized familiar faces. Starting point guard and junior Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, senior forward Nicole Dickson and junior K. K. Harvey were among those who received cheers as their names were called. Also returning are Ann Jones, Lauren McGraw and Jailyn Norris.
Of the eight newcomers, five are freshmen – Asianna Fuqua-Bey, Ariel Hearn, Jaymie Jackson, Courtney Powell and Mooriah Rowswer. The remaining three are transfers – senior Jamila Ajanaku and juniors Pa'Sonna Hope and Devin Mack.
Ajanaku from Middle Tennessee State University and Hope from Ole Miss are both waiting to hear word from the NCAA of their eligibility determination for the season.
The Tigers have been practicing since Oct. 1 and McFerrin, who has been over the program since 2008, sees the talent and promise that the new players have to offer.
"So honestly right now it's a little bit of a puzzle," McFerrin said. "I know we're talented. I know we're athletic. I will say this. Our team will always play hard. Our team will always play together. And we will win."
The Tigers will host an exhibition game on Nov. 3 against Rhodes College and then open the preseason facing Grambling State on Nov. 9 at the Elma Roane Field Fieldhouse.