With the opportunity to already double its win total from Ivy League play a year ago, the women’s basketball will travel to Columbia this weekend for the first of two straight Saturday match-ups with the Lions.
Though its 4-11 record (1-1 Ivy) does not completely reveal it, the Red is remarkably improved from a season ago. With a rejuvenated offensive attack based around the team’s impressive depth and solid group of young players, Cornell has already surpassed the season total of three wins posted by the 2004-05 squad.
No less than 13 players average over seven minutes of playing time per game for the Red under head coach Dayna Smith’s rotation.
“I love it,” said freshman Shannon Scarselletta. “The team is very strong throughout the roster. We don’t get weaker when our starters come out and we know that anyone can do well and contribute while on the floor.”
Meanwhile, with three of the team’s top-5 scorers emerging from the freshman class, the newcomers have made an immediate impact for the Red and are excited about the team’s bright future.
“We are a very young team,” Scarselletta said. “We will win an Ivy League championship in the next four years. We have everything we need to do it.”
Freshman phenom Jeomi Maduka has played the largest role in invigorating a Red attack which has averaged 62.5 points per game through the team’s first 15 games – almost a 12-point increase from the year before. The 6-2 Texan is scoring just above 13 points per game and also leads the team in rebounds, steals and blocks.
Fellow rookies Kayleen Fitzsimmons and Scarselletta have also made huge contributions to the Red.
Shooting an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range, Fitzsimmons leads the team in scoring from beyond the arc. She has also become the Red’s leading set-up woman, leading the squad with 48 assists.
Meanwhile, Scarselletta has been Cornell’s strongest player coming off the bench, most recently leading the team with 20 points in a 94-80 loss to Princeton on Jan. 14.
The team’s veterans, however, have not been completely overshadowed, as sophomore Lindsay Krasna and junior Claire Perry are still staples of the Cornell offense. Combining for over 21 points per game, the two are also among the team leaders in assists and rebounds.
All of these offensive weapons should have plenty of opportunity to put up big numbers against a Columbia defense that has been giving up nearly 70 points per game. Nevertheless, the Red should expect a good fight from Columbia which is not without a few scoring threats of its own.
Junior guard Megan Griffith is the Lions’ floor general when they have the ball. Averaging 37 minutes a game, Griffith leads the team with 14.1 points and 5.5 assists per game.
“[Griffith] is really good. She should be pretty difficult for us,” Scarselletta said.
Joining Griffith among Columbia’s starting five are several scrappy players that rebound well. Guard Michele Gage pulls down 8.2 boards per contest while also adding nearly a dozen points on average.
Meanwhile, the Red should also be wary of the Lions’ frontcourt, led by Becky Hogue and Sarah Beato who combine for both a dozen points and rebounds per game. Beato, averaging over two blocks per game, is also one of the best in that category throughout the Ivy League.
“We have the right balance of inside and outside players to play them well,” Scarselletta said. “I think we should do well.”
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer