With an impressive incoming freshman class that ranks with the best in the nation and a brand new assistant coach who is more than familiar with the Dartmouth system, the Big Green women's basketball team seems headed for a promising season. This weekend, Dartmouth opens up against UNC-Charlotte, a very quick and worthy opponent, at the Seton Hall Tournament in New Jersey.
With the additions of guards Fatima Kamara '07 and Ashley Taylor '07, highly reputed forward Elise Morrison '07, and center Whitney Cunnigham '07, there's a sense that this Dartmouth team will be in the top ranks of the Ivy League for years to come. This comes as a relief, as forward Katherine Hanks '03, one of the top players in school history, just graduated leaving a void down low. Co-captain Jamie Librizzi '04 commented on this loss by saying, "The sophomores gained a lot of experience last year and we have a solid core in the upperclassmen. With the addition of four very talented freshmen that will have immediate impact, I think we are headed for a very successful season."
Head coach Chris Wielgus, entering her 19th season, also noted the key concept that, "Each year you get a fresh start. Every team must work to achieve a certain level of intensity. Adversity will have to be overcome. Each team, each year must define itself." The women's team will look to be just as successful as they have been in the past years, despite losing members and having fresh faces on the team unfamiliar with the system.
Another key addition is assistant coach Courtney Banghart '00. Since graduating from Dartmouth in 2000, she has enjoyed coaching success by leading Episcopal High School in Alexandria, VA, to an Independent School League Championship and being named the city's coach of the year in 2001-2002. She looks to bring her experience to help develop the Big Green guards.
The Big Green kicks off the season against the fast and athletic 49ers of UNC-Charlotte, who could provide a little bit of difficulty especially for a relatively inexperienced team. However, Librizzi quelled that fear, saying, "I think we will be able to match up with that and hopefully force them to play at our tempo. I definitely think we are up for the challenge and ready for it." Wielgus added, "This is a young team with a great deal of enthusiasm and talent. Despite its youthfulness, they are hardworking and unselfish."
The hopes for this tournament are high as Dartmouth starts a tough non-conference schedule. But Librizzi mentioned as well that this will lead to better preparation for Ivy League success, and a better shot at winning the Ivy League title and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Hopes are extremely high as the Big Green women will look to prove themselves this weekend in the Garden State.