Appalachian State finished a 12-win season with the first Sun Belt Tournament win in program history and a variety of gritty accomplishments following decimating injuries and attrition that wore the rotation perilously thin. Head Coach Angel Elderkin acknowledges the loss of talent as fact rather than excuse and talks about the implications to the season just completed and the next one to come.

Coming into 2016-17 Appalachian State's women's basketball team had an established and experienced rotation to build upon. But, before the regular season even started injuries took the most prolific returning three-point shooter and leading returning rebounder. From there, additional attrition diluted what looked to be a solid nine-player rotation down to an often fatigued seven-player (or even less) rotation.

As a result, the Mountaineers finished the season with four starters averaging more than 28 minutes per game (two in the Sun Belt's top seven for minutes played per game) and Head Coach Angel Elderkin had to manage style of play and aggression accordingly. With the shorter bench and expected fatigue factors Appalachian often struggled to finish off winnable games, especially in the second halves of close games.

In fact, for the season App State's average scoring margin was just minus-2.2 points per game. One score more would've changed the outcome of several games - in five losses of four points or less Appalachian actually led going into the fourth quarter. Flip those close losses to close wins and the season takes on an entirely different complexion.

But, too often, as App State got worn down late in games, opponents would simply pack into zone defenses and invite the leg-weary Mountaineers to win the game from the perimeter. With the loss of 2015-16 leading three-point shooter Kaila Craven to ACL surgery before the season App State's perimeter threat was compromised further (Appalachian's 27% from the arc was 318th out of 345 nationally).

Still, App State fought their way to the first Sun Belt Tournament victory in the program's brief league history and heads into an offseason hoping the addition of new incoming talent and healthy return of injured veterans will take the program to that "next level", which Elderkin explains in this commentary.


Coach Elderkin continues in describing the impact of the injuries and attrition further, talking about the process going forward, and how the program carries the momentum from that tournament win into the offseason and beyond.


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