November 14, 2008

Red Aims to Build on Last Year’s Success

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The 2007-08 season was the most successful campaign in school history for the women’s basketball team. Eleven Ivy wins and 20 overall wins were both school records, accumulated on the way to the Red’s first Ivy League championship and NCAA tournament berth.
[img_assist|nid=33587|title=Bigger, better Benson|desc=Junior co-captain and starting point guard Lauren Benson (23) will help lead the Red’s offense this year following a sophomore year that included a new school season assists record.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The title run will culminate tonight with the raising of the championship banner prior to the men’s basketball game, just two days before the women begin their title defense against Duquesne.
After winning it all last season, the Red was ranked third behind Harvard and Dartmouth in a preseason poll of the Ivy League.
The drop from the top can largely be credited to the loss of the pillars that the Red built its championship team around — seniors Jeomi Maduka and Moina Snyder — both of whom will still be on campus but won’t take the court this season.
After transferring to Cornell and finishing out her athletic eligibility last season, Snyder will remain with the team as an assistant coach. Last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year, Maduka, will be focusing on her time with the track and field team, where she has already won more than just once.
To fill the gaps in Sunday’s opener against Duquesne, the Red will look to senior captain Shannon Scarselletta, also a Sun columnist, to take center stage in the frontcourt.
Scarselletta is one of six returning letter winners and the only current player with a 20-point performance under her belt.
Sophomore forward Susie Doyle will also see her role greatly enhanced this Sunday down in Pittsburgh after seeing action in 19 games last year.
The only returning starters will be in the backcourt, as the junior duo of captain Lauren Benson and Allie Fedorowicz return after breakout seasons.
Benson will once again be the center of the offense, directing the Red from the point guard position.
Last season, Benson directed the Red to 20 wins while setting a school record with 156 assists in a season, good enough for 5.4 per game and 24th in the nation.
Benson is also a scoring threat, having ranked first in the league in three-point field goal percentage last season (46.7 percent).
Benson and the Red will look to pick up where they left off against Duquesne, the No. 8 team in the Atlantic-10 conference’s preseason poll.
Duquesne will face off against Morehead State tonight to open the season, giving them a leg up on the Red when the teams play on Sunday.
Duquesne has aalready played two exhibition games, outscoring a local Pittsburgh team — Team Essence — and Clarion by a combined score of 183-84.
Cornell will likely key in on reigning A-10 Defensive Player of the Year, senior guard Kristi Little, who led the conference with 3.3 steals per game last season.
Versatile on both ends of the court, she also led the team with 16.3 points per game, finished second on the team in defensive rebounds, had more than four times as many assists as any other Duke, and played six more minutes on average than the next player on the team.
After losing to Duquesne in 2003-04 season by 15 points and again the next season by a 37-point margin, Cornell has yet to earn a win against Duquesne.