Women’s Basketball Preview: Off and gunning

Flat Hat Staff Writer Jack Pollock also authored this report.

The 2008-09 season promises to be a year of transition for the College of William and Mary in more ways than one. Coming off a disappointing 14-18 mark a season ago, the Tribe will attempt to counteract the loss of all-time leading scorer Kyra Kaylor ’08 with the implementation of a new, up-tempo offense.

“It’s going to be a very different team this year,” Head Coach Debbie Taylor said. “We’re going to play more people. We’re going to play a faster game. We’ve changed our offensive structure a little bit, so we’re going to have a whole new look.”

Taylor’s new offense will feature four wing players pushing the ball up the floor before settling into the triangle offense. The goal of the offense will be to get off a shot within the first 12 seconds of the shot clock.

“That’s the object of the game: to take more shots,” said Taylor. “We’re trying to take at least 75 shots a game.”

Finding players willing to take those shots should not be a problem. The Tribe returns 10 players from last year’s squad that finished seventh in the CAA, along with four incoming freshmen, all of whom Taylor feels have the ability to score.

“We’re going to rotate kids in and let them play. We’re going to get out and go,” Taylor said.

Taylor cited Stanford University and the University of Colorado as teams who have recently run a fast-paced triangle offense with much success. She cautioned that the offense may take some getting used to, but promised that it will be fun to watch.

“You may see us come down four times in a row and shoot a three, and that as a coach can be very [scary],”
Taylor said, smiling. “But we’re kind of just going to open up the door and let them go.”

Breaking down the Tribe starters and key contributors

Projected starters

Sophomore guard Katy Oblinger — A quick player who will likely anchor the offense with her fierce defense and smart passing. She totaled 41 assists and 20 steals in 30 games last season.

Senior guard Courtney Portell — Portell will bring a spark from beyond the arc, as she made school history her junior year with the most three pointers in a season in College history.

Senior forward Dani Kell — Taylor says Kell will provide the leadership necessary to strengthen this young team. Returning for a fifth year after being sidelined with injuries, Kell is back in shape and ready to make an impact, hoping to bring her game to the level that earned her a spot on the CAA All-Rookie team her redshirt freshman year.

Junior forward Kelly Heath — A solid performer who has shown potential for greatness, Heath poured in a season-high 25 points against the University of North Carolina-Wilmington last season.

Junior forward Tiffany Benson — Benson will look to fill the big shoes of departed forward Kyra Kaylor in the center spot with her athleticism and relentless defense. An explosive player, Benson led the CAA in offensive rebounds in 2005, while finishing second in blocks, good enough for all-defensive team honors.

Off the bench

Freshman guard Taysha Pye — Taylor calls her a true athlete, who even outplays the boys in practice with her size and strength.

Junior guard Robyn Barton — After already making a splash in the preseason, Barton is one of the College’s quickest players and poses a threat from beyond the arc.

Junior guard Lindsey Moller — Will trade off with Pye, Oblinger and Portell in bringing the ball up. Moller will also supply tenacious defense and can deliver in the post — she grabbed five rebounds in six minutes against Georgia State University in the first round of the CAA Tournament last season.


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