Without any returning starters and no seniors to lead the way, the women’s basketball team is not on anybody’s short list to win an Ivy League title. But that’s the way they like it.
“Even though we’re very inexperienced and we’ll be the shortest team everyone faces and we’re the underdogs, the team takes it as a challenge,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “I love their attitude, and how much they want to prove everyone wrong.”
A corps of driven and talented players fills the backcourt this year, with guards that were relegated to supporting roles last year preparing for a breakout season. Replacing the production of two-time All-Ivy selection Karen Force ’04 and the experience of her classmates will not be an easy task, but it is a job the Red is ready and willing to take on.
Junior co-captains Sarah Brown and Hilary Seidel will lead the way. Brown is the team’s top returning scorer, averaging just under five points per game a year ago.
“She’s a great shooter,” Smith said. “This year is hopefully her breakout year. She is our go-to player, the offensive spark of the team.”
Seidel provides balance by anchoring the team on the other end of the court. “She is a defensive presence,” Smith said. “She’s got great anticipation skills, and plays defense with her hands and her feet. She helps fuel the fast breaks.”
Seidel also helps out on offense, leading all bench players in assists last season.
Brown and Seidel will provide leadership for a group of untested underclassmen. Sophomores Claire Perry and Katherine Stritzl had the opportunity to watch and learn last year, and come into this season ready put these lessons to work on the court.
“[Katherine] learned a lot from last season, backing up Karen Force,” Smith said. “She’s quick and aggressive.”
Perry was held back by injuries last year, but took a leap forward in the off-season.
“She got after it in the off-season,” Smith said. “She hit the weight room and got in shape and got healthy. What we’ve seen so far has been a bright spot. Her scoring and foot speed have increased, and she can take it to the basket. We expect big things.”
The coaching staff has another reason to smile in the Class of 2008. Lindsay Krasna, Gretchen Gregg, and Christen Weaver all have the ability to make a big difference for the Red this year.
Krasna has already gotten a taste of what it takes to succeed at the collegiate level, having competed against players from programs across the country to earn a spot representing the U.S. at the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel this summer.
“We’re really excited,” Smith said. “She’s a scorer, but more than anything, she has basketball smarts. She sees things, she’s a great passer. She’s got a great pull-up jumper and she’s a three-point shooter.”
Gregg also has the skills to help the Red in the scoring column.
“She can hit any shot if she’s given a second to shoot it,” Smith said. “If we can get her open, she’s going to score.”
The Red will get some extra help from Weaver, a walk-on who joined the team this fall. Weaver made an immediate impression with her on-court presence and aggressive defense.
“She brings a lot of energy to the team,” Smith said. “The reason she made it is because of her voice and how active she is with the team.”
This year’s squad has jumped into the new season with energy and hard work. Smith feels the team is beginning to gel and fill in the gaps left by graduation.
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Staff Writer