The Connecticut College women´s basketball team will open the season this weekend with the Hampton Inn Classic at UMass Dartmouth. First year head coach Brian Wilson has brought a winning attitude with him after spending six years at perennial Division 1 powerhouse Holy Cross. Wilson has been impressed with the team´s attitude effort and the pre-season and is looking forward to the opening weekend of games.
"I´ve been really excited with our team´s effort in the pre-season and through the first two weeks of practice," Wilson said. "We have not set any numeric or statistical goals. We are just trying to improve every day. We feel if we do that, we´ll be right where we should be in February or March."
The Camels finished in last place in the NESCAC last season with an 8-16 record, but the team has plenty of reason to be optimistic as it looks to build for the future with an energetic and talented coach.
Sophomore Jenn Shinall proved to be one of the top newcomers on the New England women´s basketball landscape last season. Shinall has quick hands and the ability to score from the perimeter or off the bounce. She created many of her own offensive opportunities in transition by leading the NESCAC with 3.88 steals per game. Shinall finished fourth in the league in both scoring (14.4 ppg.) and in NESCAC three-point makes (1.62 triples per game) and should continue to cause problems for opposing defenses.
Jacqueline Shinall averaged 10.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals over the last 11 games of her rookie season. She buried 28 threes at a 36% clip to rank fourth in NESCAC three point field goal percentage. Senior Emily Cummings averaged 11.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game in her most productive season as a Camel and can shift between the two and three.
Sophomore Kim Horne is another versatile player who can slide between the two and the three. Horne has a soft shooting touch and averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in her rookie season for the Camels. Senior Jacky DeFeo (4.8 ppg., 2.8 apg.) is excellent in pressing situations and has the speed and ball handling skills to move the ball in transition. Junior Tori Verrengia has the ability to add some instant offense with the three-point shot.
In the front court, Wilson is looking for 6-1 senior Rita Holak (4.2 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) to take her inside game to the next level as a force to be reckoned with on the block. Senior Amy Towne scraps for every loose ball and is coming off a season that saw her contributed 8.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Laura Coderre (5.9 ppg., 7.0 rpg.) utilized her long reach and 6-1 frame to finish sixth in NESCAC rejections with 1.17 blocks per game and will continue to be counted on for scoring and rebounding in the frontcourt. Sophomore Taylor Sawatzki is looking forward to contributing to this unit of forwards this year after missing most of her rookie season to injury.
Wilson has been impressed with the play of the five first year players: Jeanna Dunleavy (Guard, 5-8, Chatham High School, Chatham, N.H.), Jordan Elliott-King (Guard, 5-10, New Hampton School, Northampton, England), Anne Fierberg (Forward, 5-11, Taft School, Watertown, Conn.), Bradie Hutchinson (Guard, 5-9, Groton, Mass., Lawrence Academy) and Kacie Quick (Guard, 5-6, Winchester, Mass., Winchester High School) will be looking to contribute in their first seasons as Camels.
Christie Herbst, a 2007 graduate of St. Lawrence University, enters her second season as the assistant coach. Herbst has worked hard on the recruiting trails and has played an instrumental role in player development in practice and game situations. Katie Wilson joins the program in her first season as assistant coach.
The Camels will tip off the season Saturday night with a 6:00 p.m. game against Mount Ida College in North Dartmouth, Mass.
November 19, 2009