Syracuse women’s basketball has navigated key departures

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Nov 14, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Alaina Rice (25) shoots the ball against the defense of Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Natalija Marshall (left) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Transfers rule college sports right now. Syracuse felt the impact of the expanded transfer rules when the program was hit with key departures following the 2020-21 season.

For the SU women’s basketball team, allegations of bullying and inappropriate behavior clearly expedited the exodus, and acting head coach Vonn Read has faced a tough task to replenish the SU roster.

So far, Read is finding massive success in the form of incoming transfers. It turns out the transfer portal can work both ways.

Read, who served as an assistant for the women’s team prior to 2021, inherited a roster that added seven transfers to account for the 11 players who left. While there is no doubt more talent left than arrived (it is hard to replace Kamilla Cardoso, Emily Engstler and Kiara Lewis), it has not been all bad so far.

The unrelated Carr guards are highly-touted additions. ESPN ranked Christianna as the No. 17 transfer in the country while Chrislyn slotted in at No. 22.

Both reached double digits in the starting lineup in the season opener. Naje Murray faced off with Christianna, formerly of Kansas State, during her time at Texas Tech. Meanwhile, Alaysia Styles showed her potential with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals against Notre Dame. Eboni Walker is logging meaningful minutes off the bench after arriving from Arizona State. So are Alaina Rice (Auburn) and Jayla Thornton (Howard).

It is bound to be a year with some extreme growing pains. That is was is expected with a coaching change and the departure of senior guards and the top freshman in the ACC.

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Cardoso is working her way in at national powerhouse South Carolina, currently ranked No. 1 in the country. Lewis will reunite with Cardoso in an upcoming in-state showdown. She is averaging 35 minutes per game so far for Clemson. Engstler is starting for ACC rival Louisville, ranked 10th nationally.

Unfortunately, Engstler is not the only former Orange player who stayed in the conference. Digna Strautmane landed at Georgia Tech, Amaya Finklea-Guity switched to Duke and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi is at Miami. This doesn’t even include Shalexxus Aaron, who transferred to SU, but left once Quentin Hillsman resigned.

While this certainly paints a fairly bleak picture for Syracuse, I doubt this will be the norm. Once the program finds some stability by hiring a permanent coach and concluding its investigation into Hillsman, we should see a lot less transfer movement in and out.

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About Chris McGlynn 70 Articles
Chris hails from Westfield, NJ, and is a recent graduate from Syracuse University. He spent his college years playing for the Syracuse Ultimate frisbee team, working at WAER and covering the Orange for the Juice.