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The Stephanie White era begins tonight

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What, you thought Bryce Drew was the only new sheriff in town?

WNBA: Finals-Indiana Fever at Minnesota Lynx Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve frequently neglected the Vanderbilt Commodores women’s basketball team in the past, and that’s on us, but as a full-service Vanderbilt sports blog we should do better on that front.

David Williams, from all appearances, made not one but two great coaching hires this year when it comes to basketball. New coach Stephanie White won a national title as a player at Purdue, then went into coaching after a five-year playing career in the WNBA. In 2015 and 2016, she was the head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever, compiling a 37-31 regular season record and taking her team to the WNBA Finals in 2015. White has also worked as an analyst for ESPN and the Big Ten Network.

In other words, this is something to be excited about.

Last year, the team went 18-14 in Melanie Balcomb’s final season. But the team is returning five of its top six scorers and has a couple of high-level recruits coming in to boot. 5’11” junior guard Christa Reed is back after leading the team with 11.3 ppg; 6’1” senior forward Marqu’es Webb led the team with 5.7 rpg last year and also averaged 7.3 ppg. 5’10” senior point guard Minta Spears averaged 4 assists per game last year, and 5’9” junior guard Rebekah Dahlman started 12 games and shot 37.4 percent from three-point range. 5’10” junior guard Rachel Bell started 27 games a year ago and was the team’s second-leading scorer.

The Commodores’ recruiting class also includes a pair of five-star recruits (per ESPN) in 5’11” guard LeaLea Carter (the #43 recruit in the Class of 2016) and 6’1” guard/forward Erin Whalen (the #44 recruit nationally.) And Autumn Newby, the #28 recruit in the Class of 2017, signed with the Commodores on Wednesday.

Tonight’s game against Kennesaw State tips off at 7 PM CT at Memorial Gym and can be watched on SEC Network+ and WatchESPN. That’s kind of poor scheduling as the men’s game likely won’t end until around 7:30 or so, but if you’re looking for a nightcap after Bryce Drew and company sink Marquette, tune in and watch the women, too.