February 9, 2006

Young Blood Key for W. Hoops

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A couple weeks ago, freshman Shannan Scarselletta, a forward on the women’s basketball team, made quite a prediction for her recruiting class and the program as a whole.

“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.”

With the way Cornell’s young players are performing through the early part of its Ivy League schedule, that prophesy is looking more probable with each week.

Although seven of the 10 Red players averaging double-digit minutes are freshmen and sophomores, Cornell (6-13, 3-3 Ivy) got off to its best start in the Ivy League in four years. Further, the underclassmen have accounted for an astounding 69.8% of Cornell’s total scoring this season.

“Anything is within reach for them,” said senior captain Brittani Rettig. “They are fresh with energy and have a lot of talent.”

One of the keys to the newcomers’ immediate impact at Cornell has been their ability to quickly adjust to playing at the collegiate level.

“Through our early season practices, they got used to how committed we are to the team. It set the tone early,” Rettig said. “We use a very structured and disciplined offense, so it takes time to learn. It was a big adjustment, and they showed a lot of heart while doing it.”

Of all the Red’s young players, freshman standout Jeomi Maduka has made the most immediate impact this season. Leading the team with averages of 13.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, the forward’s adjustment to playing in the Ivy League has been relatively smooth.

“It came pretty easy,” Maduka said. “It hasn’t been much different from playing in high school in Texas.”

Freshman Kayleen Fitzsimmons, the Red’s starting point guard, has also taken the leap into the college ranks in stride. A 39.1 percent three-point shooter, Fitzsimmons has averaged 8.2 points per game, while also dishing out 61 assists on the season – over 30 more than the next closest teammate.

Scarselletta, one of the first forwards coming off the bench, has also come up huge as a rookie on the Cornell roster. Highlighted by a 20-point performance in a loss at Princeton last month, she has contributed with both her scoring (5.7 ppg) and rebounding (2.8 rpg).

Not to be outdone, the sophomore class also boasts star performers of its own, including guard Lindsay Krasna. Named to the Ivy All-Rookie Team a season ago, Krasna led all Ivy League freshmen in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

Now, she has emerged as one of the floor generals for the Red, averaging 9.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Krasna is also an excellent free-throw shooter and led the Ivy League in that category last season.

With such young talent around a strong core of veterans who are dedicated to helping the younger classes reach their potential, the sky is the limit for the Cornell program.

“We are definitely going to keep getting better and definitely can get a championship,” Maduka said.

Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Wrtier