Women’s basketball preview: Senior core drives College
See below for a breakdown of the roster.
In the weeks and months leading up to the beginning of a season, most coaches discover what sort of team they will have for the upcoming year. They study their players, watch them in practice, and begin to develop an opinion of their team and create expectations.
William and Mary head coach Debbie Taylor ’86 has watched the new iteration of her team for the last few weeks and has come up with a pretty decisive conclusion.
“I expect this team to be the best team William and Mary has ever had on the women’s side,” Taylor said. “This is the best lineup of talent this program has ever produced. … We’ve had some good players, and we had a pretty good program for a few years in a row, and a lot of that was because two or three players were really good. This team is deep. … We have a solid starting five and a very solid bench. … Its going to be really hard to figure out who to play at times.”
Is that a bold statement after a sub-.500 2011-12 season? Sure. But it’s also not without merit.
Despite graduating a pair of stellar guards in Katherine DeHenzel ’12 and Taysha Pye ’12, the College returns four of its five starters from last season. As such, the Tribe figures to have a plethora of experienced and motivated players.
“Well, this year, we have a lot of returners, so we have a lot of experience,” senior guard Janine Aldridge said. “This year, I expect a lot out of my team, including myself and I think we can go a long way this year with the talent we have and the experience we have.”
The College’s experience will span the entire starting lineup, as all five of the Tribe’s starters will be seniors. The Tribe’s experience is especially prevalent in the backcourt, which features a pair of consistent performers in senior center Jaclyn McKenna and senior forward Emily Correal.
McKenna was very productive last season, averaging 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. At 6’4”, McKenna is a force under the basket, but is also unique for her ability to hit threes. Like McKenna, Correal is a very versatile player. Correal led the Tribe with 397 points and 259 rebounds last season and also boasts a size advantage over most other power forwards.
“Emily Correal is playing awesome,” Taylor said. “Her outside shot looks good, she is playing stronger, she is powering up under the basket, playing both sides of the ball. I think Emily is going to have an awesome year.”
After losing a pair of true point guards in DeHenzel and Pye, the Tribe will opt for a larger lineup and will play point guard by committee. Senior guard Janine Aldridge, a traditional shooting guard, will handle the majority of point guard duties for the Tribe this season.
At 5’11”, Aldridge is one of the taller point guards in the league, and must balance her legendary shooting ability with the duty of running the offense.
“Janine made 92 threes last season, she led the league and was top in the country,” Taylor said. “She’s just in a really great place right now. She’s obviously a great three point shooter, but she has really developed the rest of our game and she’s one of our best defenders. Janine is just really steady right now. She can score, she can defend, but she is just a mature player and the energy of our team.”
With Alrdidge moving to point guard, the College will put a pair of six-footers at shooting guard and small forward. Combined with Correal and McKenna, the Tribe will feature one of the biggest lineups in the league in terms of size.
“We have a huge team this year,” Aldridge said. “I think we should dominate the boards this year — that’s one of our goals — and bring in some rebounds and try to dominate the other teams that are smaller.”
While the approach is unconventional, Taylor is convinced that the squad’s size — and new zone defense — will make up for any speed disadvantages. The College has a few solid options at point guard, including sophomores Anna Kestler and Jazmen Boone, but decided to go with a larger lineup after seeing the results in the squad’s recent exhibition against Mary Washington.
“We are going to point guard by committee this year,” Taylor said. “We have some people who are legit point guards, but we started the seniors in our exhibition game and I really liked the way we looked. We just come down and get into the offense.”
Another interesting aspect of the College’s attack this season will be its new defensive approach. Last season, the Tribe had a stable of sharpshooters and was able to create offense at will, but was weak defensively and unable to stop opponents from scoring.
The Tribe will switch almost exclusively to a zone defense, a change from man-to-man systems of the past, and hopes that the new defensive scheme will improve the College’s ability to contain opposing scorers. In addition to the new philosophy, Taylor also expects to see Aldridge and Boone, two of the squad’s best defenders, play a large role on defense.
With an experienced starting lineup, deep bench and improved defensive outlook, Tribe players and coaches expect to field a much improved team this season, and as a result, hope to reach the postseason for the first time in team history.
“Throughout these three years, its been a good experience and everything, but we haven’t won as much as I’ve wanted us to, so this being my last chance, I just really want to give it everything,” Correal said. “Each game counts, I want to play each game as if it’s the last, so hopefully we win a lot more games this year and try to get the championship.”
JAZMEN BOONE, Sophomore forward
A top-flight on-ball defender according to Taylor, Boone should see a big increase in playing time from her freshman year as on of the first few players off the bench. With a high basketball IQ, Boone should be able to improve on her 1.6 points per game from 2012-13.
EMILY CORREAL, Senior forward – Projected starter
The senior forward notched a team-high 397 points and 259 rebounds last season, finishing second on the team with 13.3 points per game and recording 11 double-doubles. A threat all over the court, Correal’s presence in the middle makes her especially dangerous as both a scorer and rebounder, serving as a tough match-up to opponents and giving the Tribe an advantage beneath the hoop.
KYLA KERSTETTER, Sophomore guard
Probably the team’s most impressive freshman last season, Kerstetter returns most likely to spell Murchison at the shooting guard position. She played in all 30 games last year, displaying an impressive knack for forcing turnovers with 17 steals and an ability to score, averaging 3.7 points in just over 8 minutes per game.
CHANEL MURCHISON, Senior guard / forward – Projected starter
Like Aldridge, Murchison is a fifth-year senior. A strong defender, she’ll need to produce more on the offensive end at the shooting guard spot. Like Hilton, Pye leaving will mean more playing time. Last season, she started 20 games but averaged just 14.9 minutes per game, averaging 1.2 points.
MACKENZIE MORRISON, Sophomore center
Morrison, a backup center, appeared in five games as a freshman but was slowed by injury. As a result, Morrison has shown improvement during practice and figures to see more time this season. Morrison will continue to spell McKenna and Mathieu at center.
JANINE ALDRIDGE, Senior guard – Projected starter
Heading into her final season, Aldridge looks to continue her stellar history at the College. Already with the career record for three-pointers at 221, Aldridge started every game for the team, averaging 13 points per game last season. She has the potential of surpassing last season’s average should she continue her good form and will most likely start at the point guard after playing as a shooting guard for most of her career.
TAYLOR HILTON, Senior guard / forward – Projected starter
Hilton will start at small forward this season after an injury-plagued junior season. She played in 22 games but only started once, averaging 5.1 points per game. With Taysha Pye ’12 gone, though, Hilton will get her chance to shine this season.
ANNA KESTLER, Sophomore guard
The sophomore guard is coming off a freshman season in which she served the role as backup to fifth-year senior point guard Katherine DeHenzel. Commended for her vision and management of the game, Kestler’s high basketball IQ compliments her ability as a passer, evidenced by her 24 assists in her role as a backup last year.
JAMIE REVELS, Freshman forward
She was a three-year player at Regis Jesuit in Colorado, a nationally-ranked high school program. An impressive athlete, Revels played high school baseball, football, volleyball and track as well. With the team’s depth in the post this year, though, Taylor said she won’t be seeing too much action as a freshman.
JACLYN McKENNA, Senior center – Projected starter
The senior center averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, proving a threat across the board. An all-league caliber player who started all 59 games over the course of the past two seasons, McKenna will be counted on for her productivity and leadership, teaming up with Correal as part of the team’s one-two frontcourt punch.
VICTORIA WILLEMS, Junior guard / forward
A junior guard and forward, Willems adds to the Tribe’s front-court depth. Despite appearing in only four games last year and seeing limited minutes as both a freshman and sophomore. Expect her to see a slight increase in action but to continue in her role as a reserve.
KAITLYN MATHIEU, Junior center
One of the Tribe’s most versatile players, the junior forward can fill in at multiple positions, able to both shoot from the outside and play in the post. A member of the CAA All-Rookie team her freshman year with an average of 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, Mathieu took on a smaller role in 2011-2012, averaging just 2.3 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in 28 appearances.
Player bio writing contributors: Jared Foretek, Mike Barnes, Adam Swack, Max Cea, Seth Opoku-Yeboah, CJ Aftergut