Women's hoopsters hope for repeat of magical 2005-06 season
Dartmouth made quite a splash on the collegiate basketball scene after nearly upsetting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a women's basketball powerhouse, in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA tournament. The near-victory, if anything else, made the team hungry for more success outside of the Ivy League bubble.
"I think we are getting into game shape," Big Green head coach Chris Wielgus said. "Fortunately, the Ivy League has allowed us to have two scrimmages this year, so we will get a better feel for it after that. We will be as ready as we can be."
Armed with four new first-year players, the team retained three starting players and seven letter-winners from last year's squad.
The backcourt duo of Jeannie Cullen '06 and Angie Soriaga '06 and the interior presence of Krista Perry '06 will be hard to replace, but the team is trying. Experience can't be made up by talent alone. Just ask last year's edition of Harvard's basketball squad.
Margaret Smith '10 will be a vital addition to the frontcourt while Michelle Meyer '10, sister of men's basketball team co-captain Jason Meyer '06, and Betsy Williams '10, a Hanover High School graduate, will help fill the void in the backcourt created by the departure of Cullen and Soriaga.
The freshman class was increased by the addition of Nicci Owusu-Brackett '10, who walked on to the team barely a week ago.
"I enjoyed playing basketball so I expressed an interest in Dartmouth basketball. Coach Wielgus was nice enough to allow me to try out," said Owusu-Brackett. "Practices have been pretty intense but I think getting into shape has been the most difficult aspect so far."
In the words of head coach Wielgus, "It takes a while to learn how to play at the collegiate level and there is nothing that we can do to simulate the athleticism and speed that they will face in Division I."
After missing nearly the entire season last year, Elise Morrison '07 will return to her post in the center. The 2004 Ivy League Rookie of the Year is already being considered for the Ivy League Player of the Year Award.
Classmate Ashley Taylor '07, an Honorable Mention All-Ivy and Blue Sky Classic All-Tournament Team selection last season, will be looking to break school records in free throws and in career three-pointers.
Kristen Craft '08, who played in 25 contests for the Big Green last season, will compete for a starting position this season. One of only three seniors on this year's team, Fatima Kamara '07, a prolific free-shooter, is expected to be the experienced go-to player in the backcourt and start the first few games of the season.
Sydney Scott '08 will look to retain her starting position as a forward after making 24 starts and playing in 27 games last season. The precocious junior ranked in the top 10 in the Ivy League in free throw percentage, total rebounding, defensive rebounding, blocked shots and offensive rebounding in the 2005-06 season.
Sophomore forward Darcy Rose '09 and guard Koren Schram '09 will see more playing time this season. Although she saw limited action in her freshman season, Rose came through when the team needed it the most, scoring seven points in the game against Rutgers and grabbed four rebounds.
After opening eyes around the country at the end of last season, the Big Green has signed up for a demanding pre-Ivy schedule. Dartmouth's first three opponents are teams that made it to last year's NCAA tournament. After the face-off with the Hawks, the women in green will be on the road challenging Vanderbilt and Marist.
Dartmouth will be spending plenty of time on the road in the early-going -- only two of its first nine matches are at Leede Arena. The women in green do return home to Hanover for the highly anticipated Blue Sky Classic beginning on Dec. 29 before Ivy action gets into full swing.