OU women’s squad building winning culture

Greg Mast
Ottawa University senior guard Madi McAvoy earned all-conference honors last season. She is one of six returners for the Lady Braves.

The Ottawa University women’s basketball program’s foundation is being formulated under first-year coach Tarniesha Scott.

“I come into this program and I am trying to start a new legacy, build a new culture,” Scott said. “My plan for this program is to build a culture where we establish competitiveness. That is something I have talked about a lot with our players, especially during COVID times.”

The Braves’ season opener Monday against Barclay College was canceled. Ottawa opens the season Oct. 31 against Park University in Parkville, Mo.

Scott is mixing six returners with 10 new players. Scott said she wants players that will buy in into the culture on and off the floor.

“It is not always you walk into a program where three of your six returners are former starters,” she said. “That is a huge benefit for us. The six junior college transfers will be very impactful this year. Those transfers I will definitely lean on.”

Senior Madi Avoy leads the returners. She averaged a team-best 11 points last season and was an honorable mention all-conference selection.

Juniors Mariah Grizzle and Liz Vaughn also return. Vaughn averaged 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds last year. Grizzle averaged 10 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. As a freshman, she earned all-conference honors.

Scott expects big things from transfers Jalisa Simons, Hailey Anderson and Jill Thalman.

Simons transferred from a California junior college team that went 29-0 last season.

“We are very excited about her and the experience she can bring to our program and winning culture,” Scott said.

Anderson is a combo-guard with a lot of skills, Scott said.

“She is a very versatile guard that I am looking forward (to watching),” Scott said. “She can make good decisions off the ball. She can make great passes and score it. Something we are going to try and build here is having versatile guards.”

Thalman, 6-foot-2 post, averaged a double-double last year.