UCLA women's basketball moves past adversity with new-look team

Dhon Santos/Santos Photography

SAN FRANCISCO – The 2013-14 UCLA women’s basketball squad will look like a different team this year compared to last season. With two recent ACL tears for key players Kacey Swain and Kari Korver, the Bruins will need to overcome some adversity heading into the 2013-14 season.

In order to move forward, head coach Cori Close is taking steps to utilize the talent that is ready and able.

“We feel like we have enough,” said Close, who guided the Bruins to a 26-8 record en route to a third-place Pac-12 finish and NCAA tourney appearance last season. “It’s going to be a different style, but the potential is just as high."

With three returning redshirts coming back this year in Lauren Holiday, Rhema Gardner and Corinne Costa, and new faces Luiana Livulo and Dominique Williams, the Bruins will be experiencing a different team chemistry and style of play.

"I think we had incredible playmakers last year, people that could put the team on their back and make some incredible plays. But sometimes we needed to be more solid," Close said Thursday during Pac-12 Women's Basketball Media Day at Pac-12 Studios. "With this team, we don't have the hero plays as much, but we won't have zero plays. We have to be much more solid on the defensive side of the floor and I think we're going to take better care of basketball."

[Related: 2013-14 UCLA women's basketball schedule]

According to senior Atonye Nyingifa, the team will find a way to adjust, and with the help of fellow senior leader Thea Lemberger, she feels confident the team will “get it done.” Returning for a sixth year after gaining two redshirts due to injury, Nyingifa played all 34 games last season, led the team in scoring (11.6 ppg) and minutes (31.4 mpg), and was second in rebounding (8.2 rpg). Her efforts earned her 2013 All-Pac-12 honors, and will be key in carrying the injury-riddled Bruins through this season.

“If you’re a true competitor, you always find a way to make it happen,” Nyingifa said.