Considering that all three captains — including All-Ivy honoree Karen Force — are guards, it is easy to overlook the talented forwards that are on the women’s basketball team. With four forwards returning to the squad this year, in addition to two newcomers, the Red is hoping it will be able to make up for the loss of All-Ivy center Lynell Davis ’03 in the frontcourt.
“We kind of have a motion offense,” explained head coach Dayna Smith. “First of all, we run the floor. We have smaller forwards that can get up and down the court. That doesn’t really hurt us.”
What might disadvantage the team, however, is its lack of size. The tallest forward is senior Megan Fannon, who transferred to Cornell in the fall of 2001. Fannon has been battling injuries since she first arrived on the East Hill, but will hope to contribute with her solid, 6-3 stature.
“We’re going to be going up against taller, slower forwards, hopefully,” explained Smith, “and our smaller forwards will be able to be more athletic and take it to the hoop.”
Like Fannon, senior Tanya Karcic is another forward who has suffered through injuries. Last year, Karcic was sidelined with a leg injury in the first game of the season. Karcic is one of the team’s best forwards, averaging 6.2 points per game and 5.4 rebounds per game in her two healthy seasons.
Helping Karcic in the paint will be senior Dani Aretino. Six feet tall, Aretino averaged 2.1 rebounds per game last season. She will be expected to take an even bigger role with the loss of Davis.
“Dani and Tanya are two senior post players who are back,” explained Smith. “Tanya missed a lot of time last year because of her leg injury, but hopefully she’s going to be back full strength this season.”
Junior Casey Manning will be the fourth returning forward this season. Manning will be a solid player off the bench after making appearances in five games last year.
However, Smith emphasizes that there are no guarantees for court time.
“We have six forwards that are going to battle for playing time,” Smith explained. “We haven’t really set a starting lineup. We really want them to compete for time, and that’s where we are right now.”
With this in mind, Smith will also be looking to her newcomers to fight for playing time in the frontcourt. Freshmen Amy Lyon and Maria Hillenbrand will look to the four returning players to lead them and help them in adapting to the Cornell style of play. A highly touted recruit from Berwyn, Penn., Hillenbrand has already demonstrated great amounts of promise.
“Maria, our forward, she’s great [and] she works her butt off,” said Smith. “She had a little bit of injury in preseason, but she’s getting over it, and getting back into things. She’s strong as an ox, and she’s going to be able to do some things down in the low post.”
With this solid corps of forwards backed by the outstanding strength of the Red’s guards, Smith and her team are eager to take on the best of the Ivies.
“When we hit the Ivy League, I think we’ll be very ready,” Smith said.