By Jackson Keenan Sports Editor
With the basketball season right around the corner, the excitement grows from both players and new head Coach Katie Novak-Lenior, who hopes to lead the Crusaders Women's Basketball team to an ASC conference title and more.
Coach Novak-Lenior, who goes by Coach Novak, started her coaching career at Our Lady Of The Lake University where she was an assistant coach as well as the strength coach for three years before moving on to become the head coach at Sul Ross State University. She headed the ship for the Lobos for five years in which she averaged more wins per season than any other coach in Lobo history, including a 2021 ASC West Coach of the Year. During the 2022-23 season, Novak moved out to Hawaii to coach at Hawaii Pacific University but after one year she decided to come back to Texas to coach at UMHB.
Novak explained her decision to come and take the head coaching position for the Crusaders.
“It was a decision of my family and timing in my life. My daughter was actually born in Hawaii at the end of the season, and with two little kids and … a lot of family in Texas, we wanted to get back close to family and that is when this opportunity came up. Coach Carol's a good friend of mine had positive things to say about the experience here and I know it's nice you can go and win and really build something great here,” said Novak
Coach Novak also brought assistant coach Abby Spurgin, an All-American at Hawaii Pacific and a former player under Coach Novak, as well as graduate student Alexis Carmosino from Sul Ross State who was an All-Conference player last year and played under Coach Novak in 2021.
“Me and Coach Lenoir are like family and I have got to know her for a bit longer than other coaches I have played under so I would just say we have a close bond,” said Carmoino.
Coach Novak is also holding her players to a high standard on and off the court with gritty defense and a high-paced offense.
“Our team is going to be pretty tough and have high expectations around the court and in the classroom. I expect our players to be dedicated and involved and I have set a high standard for them. I want them to be a good example for people coming in as well and be a good reflection on campus. Style-wise, we're going to really get up and down. We're going to run aggressively, rebound hard and play tough defensively as well,” said Novak.
Beyond new faces, the Crusaders are bringing back lots of talent like ASC preseason players to watch list senior Guard Lauren Baker, senior Forward Ashley Faux and preseason third-team All-American Junior Guard Arieona Rosborough
With a mix of new faces and returning talent the both coach and players are excited for the 2023-2024 season with the goal of winning the ASC championship and to go far in the National Tournament.
“I want to make a really good national tournament. I think we have that ability. Get everybody to stay healthy and get everyone to buy in and play together. That's going to be a huge thing. And you know, I think that every coach's goal is the buy-in and commitment to play it for each other. But I think if we can do that it will be really hard to beat,” said Coach Novak.
Along with Coach Novak, Carmosino believes that this team's goal is to win a national championship.
“Our goal is to definitely win a national championship as well as winning an ASC championship,” said Carmosino.