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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Women's hoops ready to reclaim Ivy crown from Crimson

Women's basketball looks to build this year with six new team members.
Women's basketball looks to build this year with six new team members.

The Big Green has been picked to finish fourth in the pre-season media polls, but they are just two points out of a tie for second place, held by Cornell and Princeton. Harvard, who almost had all 15 first place votes, is the clear leader in the poll.

The team has six new members, five in the Class of 2011. The sixth newcomer to the team is Ugochi Ukegbu '09 who was encouraged by team members to join after members of the team saw her playing pick-up basketball this past spring.

Notable losses from the past year include reigning Ivy League player of the year Ashley Taylor '07 and Fatima Kamara '07, both guards who saw significant playing time.

Taylor, who averaged 17.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, and also led the team with 92 assists, 54 steals and 24 blocks, will be sorely missed by the team. While there is no one player who can put up the kind of numbers that Taylor put up last season, the team will look to use its depth to try and match her contribution on the court.

"We can't replace Ashley's production, but we run the motion so as a team we need to work on bringing it all together," co-captain Kristen Craft '08 said.

Post play will be the Big Green's strength this year, since the team returns experienced players at each post position.

"I expect a lot of points to come from the paint, and we have some good three-point shooters, so the point distribution should be more equal this year," Weilgus said.

Co-captain Sydney Scott '08 will lead the frontcourt with her experience. Last year, Scott boasted the highest field goal percentage in the conference with 55.5 percent shooting, and was second in rebounding with 8.7 per game in the Ivy League.

Joining Scott will be a pair of juniors, Darcy Rose '09 and Margaret Smith '10. Rose started 28 games last year and will look to become a low post threat both offensively and defensively, while Smith will look to develop from a consistent post sub into a starter.

At point guard, Kristen Craft '08 will look to control the pace of the game and create opportunities for the team. Craft, second on the team with a 40.1 percent field goal percentage, is a double-threat either shooting or passing the ball.

Head coach Chris Wielgus commented on Craft's hard work.

"She's the most improved player since I've been here, she's done a remarkable job working on her physicality," Wielgus said.

Koren Schram '09, who connected on 62 three-pointers in last year's campaign, will return at the shooting guard position and will look to stretch the defense with her range and speed.

They will be joined by Michelle Meyer '10 and Betsy Williams '10, both looking to make an impact in their second year.

The jury is still out on the freshmen, as it is too early to expect an immediate impact from the Class of 2011.

"It's going to take some time, there's a lot of learning to be done," Weilgus said. "You can't expect them to jump from the high school level to playing Division I basketball."

Dartmouth, as is the case every year, has loaded up its pre-conference schedule with a host of tough opponents. Marist, a team that made it to the Sweet 16 last year, will visit Hanover for the team's home opener. Other tough match-ups for the team include matches against St. Johns, Colorado and Virginia Tech, all on the road.

"Last year, we had the eighth toughest non-conference schedule, and a lot of teams want to play us because we can compete with them," Wielgus said. "We want to achieve excellence, and to do that it's all about learning the game. You don't learn the game in practice or by watching it, you have to play games. Several years ago, we almost beat Rutgers, and we've taken Purdue to the wire in the tournament as well."

The Big Green women will open up their season on Sunday, Nov. 11 with a tough road game in Iowa City, Iowa against Big Ten foe Iowa. The Hawkeyes finished tied for eighth in the Big Ten last year in an injury-plagued campaign, but return every starter.

For Craft, an Iowa native, this game has been circled on her calendar for a while. It is a team tradition to schedule games in the home states of its players.

"For me, the Iowa game is big," Craft said. "I'm from Iowa so my friends and family will be there to watch me play, so I'm really excited."