The women’s basketball team opens its season this weekend in a tournament in Michigan, and while the guards are a seasoned group, the forwards comprise a mix of veterans and younger players.
The beginning of a season always generates buzz about who’s supposed to be better than who, and in the Ivy preseason poll, the Red was picked to finish fourth in the conference behind Harvard, Penn and Dartmouth, respectively.
Senior guard Breean Walas didn’t take much notice of the rankings.
“I don’t really look at the polls. In the Ivy League, you just never know,” she said.
Junior forward Lynell Davis agreed.
“I don’t put much stock in the rankings. Fourth may be the ranking now, but we’ll see what happens in March,” she said.
The Red will carry six forwards this season, and this is a look at that 2001-2002 line-up. Heading the group is Davis. The Red’s leading rebounder last season, averaging 5.7 rpg, Davis saw action in all 27 of Cornell’s games. A solid defender, she also contributes on the offensive end. She averaged 6.6 ppg last season and nailed 40.1 percent of her field goals, no doubt due to her ability to pull down offensive boards. She will be the pillar of the Red’s defensive effort and will be counted on for leadership as well.
Sophomore Tanya Karcic is also solid all-around and will be heavily depended on under the opponent’s basket. Averaging 5.2 rpg and 5.0 ppg, she also appeared in all 27 of the Red’s games. Her shooting ability makes her a threat at mid-range and forces the opposition to keep her closely guarded when Cornell has the ball at its end.
“Tanya has an uncanny way of getting the ball and getting open,” Dacko mentioned.
At 6-2, senior Melissa Koch is one of the tallest on the team. Appearing in 20 games last season, she was used off the bench primarily in a defensive setting to guard the opposition’s tallest threats late in games. She improved during each season, and saw it pay off last year when she made 80.0% of her free throws.
Sophomore Dani Aretino saw time in 11 games last season, primarily coming in for her defensive ability. With a season in tow, Aretino should see more court time as she begins to settle in.
Two freshmen join the program in Sarah Lee and Jackie Buttitta. These two rookies bring much needed height to the squad as Lee is a towering 6-2 and Buttitta is a lofty 6-0.
“Defense is all hustle and heart, and they came in with plenty of that,” Davis reflected on the incoming freshmen.
“We are working hard and trying to learn how to run the offense and all the plays because there is a lot of information to remember,” Lee commented about how she and the other freshmen were adjusting to collegiate level basketball.
Regardless of where it was picked to finish the season, if Cornell can compete in every game with the same heart it showed in last season’s 8-6 Ivy finish, the Red have as good a shot at taking home the trophy as the other seven conference foes. The team will depend on consistent play from Davis and Karcic, and will count on everyone to step up and earn her spot on the floor.
“Everyone wants to be part of a championship and everyone is working hard together in practice,” Lee responded to an inquiry about her thoughts on the championship run. “We all really support each other and there is a really good feeling on the team.”
Sophomore guard Karen Force commented on the defensive quality of the team.
“We will really frustrate some people. We don’t just have one, two, or three players on the court that are working really hard on defense,” she said. “We have five. Hopefully that intensity will lead to good offensive opportunities.
Archived article by Katherine Granish