New adventures lie ahead for women’s basketball as it enters CAA

GREENSBORO EAST – The adventures of the North Carolina A&T women’s basketball program through two different Division I conferences in two years have had their ups and downs.

The Aggies won their 10th Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) regular season championship and fifth MEAC Tournament in their final season in the league in 2020-21. However, they entered the Big South Conference in 2021-22 and were beleaguered by COVID-19, forcing them to postpone many games and play multiple games in short order.

A&T finished 14-15 overall and 11-7 in the league in its first and only season in the Deep South before losing 68-59 in the conference tournament quarterfinals to UNC Asheville. Who knows what new challenges will present themselves in 2022-23 as the Aggies enter their new league – the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

“I wouldn’t call it a challenge,” said the head coach Tarrell Robinson said when transitioning to a new conference this season. “Basketball is not the challenge. You kinda play against everyone and some CAA schools before. Probably the biggest thing that’s going on now is more planning and travel and making sure that these young women can be in class.

We are absolutely delighted with it and plan to claim our place at this conference.”

CAA will be familiar to Robinson. He was an assistant coach at VCU from 2009 to 2012, VCU’s final three seasons in the CAA, before moving to the Atlantic 10.

“Obviously coming back to a league that I know well excites me,” Robinson said. “It’s a bit different, but in terms of opportunities to be there, I know the expectations. I think we’re going to do well in our first year.”

The CAA held its Zoom Women’s Basketball Media Day on Thursday and released its preseason predictions, with the Aggies expected to finish ninth out of 13 teams with 58 points. Robinson said he would use the pre-season prediction as motivation.

A&T returns seven players from last season, including graduate center Jazmine Harris, who is entering his second season at East Greensboro. CAA coaches voted Harris second-team preseason after averaging 13.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. Harris had the opportunity to return for an additional season due to COVID. The NCAA granted players an additional year of eligibility during the 2019-20 spring and 2020-21 fall and winter seasons.

“This young lady came back for a COVID year, so we were celebrating,” Robinson said. “Hopefully coming into CAA, she’s focused because she wants to play professionally, and obviously she wants to leave as a champion.”

The Aggies also welcome eight newcomers, including five transfers. The Aggies begin conference play by hosting nearby Elon on Dec. 30 at the Corbett Sports Center before traveling for the next three games. So after concluding their time in the MEAC with a championship. And after some successes in the Deep South, what does the future hold for A&T?

“Hopefully we can celebrate a CAA conference tournament championship and then earn a spot in the NCAA.”

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