Throughout the Cornell athletic community, the presence of senior leadership on a team is strongly emphasized. Seniors have experienced years of Ivy competition and can relay their familiarities to the younger members of the team. They see their collegiate careers winding down and use that to encourage the best out of their teammates.
The importance of senior leadership is evident when one sizes up the women’s basketball team’s frontcourt. Tri-captain Lynell Davis, one of the team’s only two fourth-year members, will lead the blocking brigade and the hunt for the Ivy title.
Not to be underestimated, however, are the critical contributions from the rest of the women who will fortify the lane. Junior Tanya Karcic will see a significant increase in playing time and will be relied upon to take her game to a new level as a starter.
“Lynell and Tanya will be our starters. We are expecting a lot of them,” head coach Dayna Smith said.
Classmate Dani Aretino has gradually moved up the bench over her past two seasons and should begin to see more time on the court.
Sophomore Sarah Lee, who saw action in every game last season, will continue her transition into college play. Sophomore transfer Megan Fannon brings more height to the squad and rounds out the post roster.
“This year, we are expecting a lot out of the forwards. They are the ones who have had to adjust the most to the new coaching system. It really asks a lot of the forwards because they will be running down the court and attacking,” Smith summarized. “They are much more a part of the offense than in previous years and so far they have really risen to the challenge.”
Smith elaborated on her new coaching system.
“The forwards should have fun in our system and are the focal point in the offense. This is a type of system where you need forwards who can run up and down the court and make a layup and step out and keep the defense honest. We definitely have that group,” she explained.
Davis has excelled as a forward, and her efforts came to fruition last year when she became Cornell’s career leader in blocks with 107 and averaged a team-high 6.1 rebounds per game. A threat on offense as well, she averaged 6.3 points per game with a .453 field goal percentage.
“She can get to the hoop, so we want her to attack more. She can get inside and can learn how to attack people on defense and learn some post moves,” Smith said.”
Karcic also put up strong numbers. She averaged 5.4 rpg and 7.4 ppg on .348 shooting from the field and shot .324 from three-point range. Also a solid foul shooter, Karcic will be tested as she will experience more pressure to perform and improve from her first two seasons. But her consistent and steadfast play should serve her well.
“Tanya is very guard-like. She can hit the three-point shot and is able to face the basket,” Smith praised. “She has gotten strong in the offseason, she has done work down low, and really has a complete game. I think she will have a breakout year.”
Aretino saw limited action last season and averaged only 2.6 rpg and 1.7 ppg. Doors have opened for this upperclassman, however, and she will be given a chance to break out this year off the bench.
Lee posted comparable stats with 2.9 rpg and 1.9 ppg, but with her on-the-court r