November 19, 2004

W. Cagers Open Season

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Tomorrow, the women’s basketball team will finally have a chance to get back on the court for the first time in a year when it travels to Baltimore for the UMBC tournament. Cornell will be greeted there with a first round matchup against Mt. St. Mary’s followed by either Coppin State or UMBC in the championship or consolation game on Sunday.

“The competition is going to be very good,” said head coach Dayna Smith. “We haven’t faced any of these teams recently so we do not know much about them. Going into the tournament, no one has established what type of system they are in yet. All we know is that all three teams are extremely athletic.”

However, the teams involved in the tournament are also unaware of Cornell’s strengths. Not only is there no access to film on the Red, but also, Cornell’s starting five has a grand total of zero starts in their collegiate careers.

The team will be led by two of the recently named junior captains, Sarah Brown and Hillary Seidel. Brown is the leading returning scorer for the Red, averaging 3.6 points per game a year ago. She has a terrific outside shot and will try to do some damage from the perimeter against Mt. St. Mary’s. Seidel will serve as the back-up point guard to sophomore Katherine Stritzl, a role she has grown accustomed to over the last two years when she played behind Karen Force ’04.

The third captain, Brittani Rettig, will not play this weekend due to a knee injury she suffered on the second day of practice.

“We lost five starters from last season,” Smith said. “We are looking to establish who we are and what Cornell basketball is all about.”

And they will be trying to do so against a taller Mount St. Mary’s team in the opening contest of the season.

The Mount is coming off a 9-19 year, with an 8-10 record in the Northeastern Conference. But that team graduated three seniors and will be relying on some new faces, including junior guard Samira Rashid, who averaged 9.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 21 starts last season.

“[Mount St. Mary’s] has some height and they have added some key freshmen,” Smith said. “They like to mix things up on the defensive end and they are very well balanced.”

That height seems to be where the Mount may have its biggest advantage with 6-4 sophomore Shamica Spears leading the way. Spears missed most of her freshman campaign with a torn ACL, but she looked promising in her collegiate debut, recording 14 points and 8 rebounds.

The Red’s tallest player is only 6-1 while the Mount has four players on its roster who are taller. Cornell will need to rely on its quickness to score points in transition.

However, of the Red’s 12-player roster, there are no seniors and six freshmen. It will be interesting to see whether the team’s inexperience will hamper its cohesiveness on the floor. The answer is not certain, but the Red is just anxious to get back on the court and find out. “It will be nice to play some competition besides ourselves,” Smith said.

Archived article by Bryan Pepper
Sun Staff Writer