Even without scoring, Taijhe Kelly could take over games because of her ability to block shots and grab rebounds.
UNO's 6-foot-4 junior center worked on her offensive game during the summer.
“I've got more of a back-to-the-basket game now,” Kelly said. “I've got more than one move this season. My rebounding has increased a lot. I'm more active on the offensive side.
“Defense is usually the key to my game, but this year I'm trying to add more offense.”
Kelly averaged 4.9 points and 5.0 rebounds last season while leading the Summit League with 2.6 blocks per game.
With the Mavericks' top three scorers having departed, and with Kelly's offensive improvement, could she become a double-figure scorer?
Time will tell.
“She has the capability to (score more),” interim coach Brittany Lange said. “She's really focused on the rebounding side of it. She's done a great job of getting herself in shape — and that can lead to a couple of quick ones in transition, and then maybe you're shooting a couple of free throws, and that adds up (to more points). If it translates into an exact number, I'm not sure yet.”
If nothing else, Kelly did what it took to get in that position, Lange said.
“She dedicated her entire summer to staying in the weight room, working on her footwork, getting stronger ... and from that she's really improved on the offensive end,” Lange said. “I'm very proud of those gains that she's made.”
Kelly, 19, started her UNO career as a still unrefined 17-year-old from Carson, Calif.
“She probably needed another (redshirt) year,” Lange said. “But she's a very smart, system player. She's knowledgeable about where to help and when.”
Mavs picked seventh, House on All-Summit second team
The Mavs were picked to finish seventh in the eight-team Summit League.
“I really like their eagerness to improve, to get better each day,” Lange said. “We're not talking about wins or losses but about embracing the process, improving and understanding their roles, and doing it together.”
UNO guard Ericka House, a 5-foot-9 senior who led all Summit League reserve players in scoring last season, was named second team preseason All-Summit in voting by media.
House, from Hot Springs, Ark., transferred to UNO last season from Tyler (Texas) Junior College and averaged 9.0 points per game while shooting 33.5 percent (57 of 170) from 3-point range. More than half (57 of 94) of her made field goals were 3-pointers.
House, who also averaged 2.9 rebounds per game, was fourth on the team in scoring. She is the Mavs' leading returning scorer and their second-leading returning rebounder.
Bogard among possible options at point guard
Brianna Bogard is one of three point guards UNO hopes will fill the void left by the departure of four-year starter Jamie Nash.
Bogard transferred from East Tennessee State and is eligible to play immediately.
“She has wonderful leadership qualities,” Lange said. “She might not be the most vocal, but she knows how to lead in many ways. This is a new process to her, too, and she's getting better every day. We do put a lot of emphasis on our point guards.”
Bogard, a 5-7 junior, averaged 5.2 points and 1.5 assists in 30 games as a freshman and 4.5 points as a sophomore at East Tennessee State.
Last season, Nash averaged 9.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and was among the national leaders with 3.2 steals per game.
Lange said both Bogard and 5-10 junior Lanese Bough are capable of playing either guard spot, while 5-7 freshman Madi Robson of Ankeny, Iowa, is the team's only pure point guard.
“They're all a little different than Jamie,” Lange said. “Jamie was that fearless, aggressive PG, and this group plays extremely hard but is probably more system-oriented than Jamie was.”
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Video: Coach Brittany Lange
Video: Taijhe Kelly and Brianna Bogard