Jeff Tungate’s new team and coaching staff

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

After finishing 6-24, the worst record the women’s basketball team has had under Jeff Tungate, the team will have a completely different coaching staff.

Feeling disappointed about the way the season ended, Tungate decided to switch up the coaching staff, promoting Crystal Bell to assistant coach, hiring Ariel Braker as an assistant coach and hiring Ke’Sha Blanton as associate head coach.

“The new staff additions have been really good,” Tungate said. “I just thought it would be nice to get new ideas, some new energy and maybe be able to expand our recruiting a little bit. I feel really confident that I found those things.”

Last season the team had seniors in Taylor Jones, Nikita Telesford and Mercy Agwaniru to carry the load while surrounded by mostly freshmen and sophomores. Now, the team will look to rely on players like Kahlaijah Dean, Chloe Guingrich and Brianna Breedy with those seniors leaving.

“I think Brianna Breedy could take on a bigger role,” Tungate said. “She’s shown a lot of improvement and work in the spring. I also think Chloe Guingrich is only going to get better. I think she is capable of being someone who can really take that next step for us.”

Dean exploded onto the scene in the second half of the season last year, scoring 30 points in a game against Detroit Mercy. She was also named to the All-Freshman first team, and formed a scoring duo with Jones, an All-Horizon League Second Team player.

Breanna Perry is a name that Oakland women’s basketball fans need to keep stored away in the back of their minds. The six-foot-one transfer from Temple is an athletic rebounding forward that is eligible starting in the 2020 season. With both Telesford and Agwaniru leaving, the front court will need depth for the future.

“The biggest thing is rebounding,” Tungate said. “We’ll be able to get up and down the court and putting points on the board. Our guards will have to rebound more with those two gone.”

Combining Perry, Dean, Breedy and Guingrich will yield a very athletic, fast team in the 2020-21 season. However, Tungate isn’t focused on that, he’s focused first and foremost on the 2019-2020 season.

The schedule will have less big conference teams and feature more mid-major teams, as Tungate felt last year’s schedule was too difficult, playing half of the Big 10.

“When you’re playing Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State, you aren’t getting a true test of where you are,” he said. “I think by playing more high caliber mid-major teams we can give us a better idea of where we’re at and what we need to work on.”

Not only was the past season the toughest for Tungate in terms of record, but personally he dealt with back problems that sidelined him for seven games of the regular season.

“It was difficult,” he said. “No one likes to lose then you throw on top of that the health problems, and it was a very tough year. I think as long as you can learn the right lessons from that though, it can help us.”

The 2019-2020 Golden Grizzlies team will be a young one, full of athletic players who have shown growth and impressed Tungate and his new coaching staff.