Only way to go is up: Kennedy says Cowgirls headed in right direction

Published 11:25 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

Lynn Kennedy says he believes the time for his women’s basketball team to rise is right.

After three seasons with a losing record, including a lost campaign a year ago, Kennedy says he’s flipped the script in the offseason.

With the help of new associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Pittman, Kennedy enters his fourth season at McNeese State with what he says is his best roster. That, he hopes, changes the fortunes drastically from a club that went 6-25 last season.

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“I’m excited for what we have done,” Kennedy said. “I like this class a lot. We have improved our post, our shooting and our athleticism.”

The final piece of the Cowgirls puzzle is 6-foot-2 La’Genesis Johnson from Jones Community College in Ellisville, Mississippi.

Johnson, who spent her first year in college at Jackson State, averaged nine points and 9.7 rebounds a game last season, starting 23 of 24 games. The left-hander has committed and is expected to officially sign in the next few days.

“We came into this wanting to get more athletic, better shooting and better in the post, especially on defense,” Kennedy said. “I think we have done that. We are a completely different-looking team.”

Johnson will become the seventh new player on a roster of six returners, three of which were starters. Four of the group are freshmen as the Cowgirls kept that entire class.

“That was a big thing and I think it shows players like the direction we are heading in,” Kennedy said. “That was big for us.”

No name was more noticeable than Paris Guillory, a local product who starred at St. Louis Catholic. Guillory returned home after a freshman season at Louisiana Tech.

“Paris was a big get for us,” Kennedy said. “She was a great player coming out of high school. She came back and became the local girl who can raise the program back.”

Guillory is one of four Louisiana players to return to the state and play for the Cowgirls.

That is big for a program that, under Kennedy who came from the Pacific Northwest, had a hard time getting a foot in the door with area players. That door has now been open.

“It is a lot different this spring,” Kennedy said. “It really helped to bring in Mike Pittman. He knows the state.

“We were also very persistent. It took time to make those relationships and now players see what we have here at McNeese and want to be a part of it.”

Kennedy admitted the exposure the men’s basketball team received last year helped. The Cowboys were the Southland Conference regular season and tournament champions and played in the NCAA Tournament.

“Players got to see what we could be here and what we have to offer,” Kennedy said.

For the first time, Kennedy will have the team on campus throughout the summer, something he credits the administration for helping make happen.

“We were able to come up with the funds this summer,” he said. “That can really bring a team together as they workout together.”

McNeese Women’s Basketball Signees

Avery Young, 5-9, Guard, Iota/Pearl River (Miss.) CC (Iota High)

Kiayra Ellis, 6-0, Forward, Shreveport/Arkansas St. (Captain Shreve High)

Paris Guillory, 5-7, Guard, Lake Charles/Louisiana Tech (St. Louis Catholic High)

Tyrielle Williams, 5-7, Guard, New Orleans/S. Alabama (Ursuline Academy)

Sydney McQuietor, 6-2, Forward, Keller, Texas/Boise St. (Keller High)

Wilnie Joseph, 6-5, Center, Greenwood, Ind./Louisiana-Lafayette (Greenwood High)

La’Genesis Johnson, 6-2, Forward, Weir, Miss./Jones (Miss.) CC (Jackson State)