Despite picking up the talented Iyana Dorsey in the transfer portal a year ago, UTRGV saw no improvement to their overall record in 2022-23.
Coming into 2023-24, there is some excitement in South Texas. Head coach Lane Lord showed that excitement on a recent episode of the Straight Outta WAC podcast. Despite some key losses in Kacee Kyle and Jena’ Williams among others, UTRGV is one of two teams in the WAC that returns four starters. Dorsey is back and Mele Kailahi is expected to have an even bigger role in year two. Charlotte O’Keefe is back for a second season and anchors a deep interior for the Vaqueros.
There is a lot to like about the Vaqueros heading into 2023-24.
Lane Lord, 6th Season
2022-2023 Season Record:
12-18 OVR | 6-12 WAC
Lost to New Mexico State in first round of WAC Tournament
- Halie Jones – Grad Transfer (Northeastern State- Division II)
- KaCee Kyle – Transfer (Cedarville- Division II)
- Tiffany McGarrity – Grad Transfer
- Brianna Sanchez – No Longer on Roster
- Burcu Soysal – Graduated
- Jena’ Williams – Transfer (Northwestern State)
- Kade Hackerott – 5’11, Sophomore, G – Central Missouri- Division II
- Nyajah Mitchels – 6’4, Senior, F – Tarleton State
- Faith Phillips – 5’11, Sophomore, G – St. Mary’s University- Division II
- Iyana Dorsey – 5’6, Junior, G
- Deborah Ogayemi – 5-11, Junior, F
- Mele Kailahi – 5’9, Junior, G
- Charlotte O’Keefe – 6’3, Sophomore, F
- Zariah Sango – 6’4, Senior, F
Projected Starting Lineup:
- G- Iyana Dorsey
- G- Mele Kailahi
- F- Deborah Ogayemi
- F- Charlotte O’Keefe
- C- Nyajah Mitchels
Really, Lane Lord could go a lot of ways with his starting five this season. However, when it comes to experience and proven talent, this is the lineup that makes sense to start things out. The highlights here are height in the front court and great talent in the guard spots.
There is a lot to like about Lane Lord’s 2023-24 Vaqueros. First, there is depth in the paint. Three players 6’3 or taller will create some problems. If you remember, the last two regular season champions have had plenty of size. So, perhaps Lord and his staff are on to something.
Along with the size, there is experience at the guard line. Iyana Dorsey is the primary ball handler and scorer. Mele Kailahi will step into a larger role, especially on the offensive end. And Lane Lord has some freshman that are ready to step into the rotation immediately.
The Vaqueros will have the ability to play multiple styles of basketball, which bodes well in the WAC. They can play fast, according to Lord, or slow it down a little and go through the post. Either way, being able to adjust to different playing styles on a nightly basis is key in the WAC.
UTRGV women’s basketball is gearing up for a bright future. The majority of the squad has multiple years of eligibility left. This is an advantage over much of the WAC. However, don’t be surprised if the Vaqueros are in the mix at the end of the season. With a proven scorer and size in the paint, it will create challenges for opponents.
Areas of Improvement:
Last season, UTRGV finished dead last in field goal percentage. They were also near the bottom in scoring and score margin. This definitely needs to be addressed and improved upon before the season tips off. The Vaqueros have to start making their shots if they want to move up the WAC standings. It all starts with Iyana Dorsey who averaged just over 18 points per game in 2022-23.
The team’s defense wasn’t great either. When it came to defensive stats like steals and opposition scoring, UTRGV was again towards the bottom of the WAC. There are multiple players in the WAC that can give you 20-plus points on any given night. When your defense is lacking, that number is going to rise quickly. This has to be an emphasis as camp opens in South Texas.