Women’s basketball preview

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November 4, 2011

3:21 AM

2010 record: 3-26, 2-16 CAA

Injuries and late-game letdowns doomed the 2010-11 Tribe to one of its worst records — 3-26, 2-16 CAA — in program history and a first-round exit from the CAA tournament, so it should come as no surprise that head coach Debbie Taylor’s squad is eagerly preparing for its shot at redemption starting Nov. 11 at Kaplan Arena.

“Last year was rough,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t expected, and it was tough. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder.”

The 2011-12 team is both revamped and experienced. After losing three graduating players, the Tribe adds four freshmen to go along with the return of junior guard and forward Chanel Murchison — who missed the entirety of last season due to an injury — and junior guard Janine Aldridge, who was sidelined with a season-ending injury after just eight games.

“We have more bodies, which is nice,” Taylor said. “We have 12 healthy bodies and we have eight players who have started at some point in their career.”

Otherwise, the core of the team will return with an extra year of experience under its belt. Senior guards Katherine DeHenzel and Taysha Pye, who was the team’s leading scorer in 2010-11 and a pre-season all-conference second team selection, will anchor the team’s back court while 6’3’’ junior forward Emily Correal, 6’2” sophomore forward Kaitlyn Mathieu – the team’s second-leading scorer last season – and 6’3” junior center Jaclyn McKenna will play down low. Aldridge and junior guard and forward Taylor Hilton should see significant action as well.

“We’re all excited,” Pye said. “We’re not about talking anymore. I’m personally kind of over saying what I expect, we just have to come out and do it this year because we didn’t do it last year.”

Besides the added depth, the team should get some added size. The Tribe’s tallest player will be freshman center MacKenzie Morrison, who stands at 6’4”. The Iowa native was a McDonald’s All-American nominee and a four-time all-state honoree.

“She’s a big 6’4”,” Taylor said. “She can finish under the basket, and she pulls rebounds because she just takes up space. We can put a big lineup on the floor, so we can play a little bit of chess this year in whether we go with size or speed, but we’re a big team.”

Put it all together, and Taylor thinks she has a squad that can make history.

“One of the biggest goals is to make the biggest turnaround in the country,” she said. “That’s what we’re aiming for. We’d like to get a bid for the [NCAA] tournament, and we’d like to be the first team to go to post-season play in the history of the program.”

Head Coach Debbie Taylor

Head coach Debbie Taylor ’86 enters her 13th year as the leader of the program. Last season was undoubtedly her toughest, as she watched her team struggle to come up big late in games en route to an abysmal 3-26 season. Taylor has, however, had success at the College. In 2007 the team finished with a 19-12 record, reaching the second round of the conference tournament. The coach has stated throughout the off-season that her team’s goal is to make the biggest turnaround in the country.

Guards

Senior Katherine DeHenzel will once again be running the show for the Tribe at the point with senior Taysha Pye providing the bulk of the team’s scoring from the shooting guard spot. Junior Janine Aldridge, who was hurt for most of last season, will be back as one of the squad’s top three-point shooters.

Forwards/Centers

The Tribe will look to flex its size this year in the post. Sophomore forward Kaitlyn Mathieu is coming off an impressive rookie campaign in which she showed an ability to play in the post and shoot from the outside while junior forward Emily Correal and junior center Jaclyn McKenna will look to dominate the paint on both sides and pull down big rebounds.

Freshmen

Guard Anna Kestler, out of Pittsburgh, will be spelling senior Katherine DeHenzel at the point, while Tennessee native Kyla Kerstetter will use her sharp-shooting skills off the bench at the shooting guard position. Taylor raved about forward Jazmen Boone’s smarts, calling her one of the smartest players she’s ever coached, and MacKenzie Morrison, standing at 6’4”, will give the Tribe an added inside presence.

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