Women's basketball seeks NESCAC title with new offense
Amherst finished the 2004-05 campaign with a record of 15-11 (4-5 NESCAC) including key conference wins over Trinity and Middlebury Colleges. The fifth-seeded Jeffs shook the NESCAC Tournament with an upset victory over fourth seed Wesleyan University. Amherst reached the semifinals for the first time since the 2000-01 season, but fell to Bowdoin College, the eventual conference champion.
Senior guidance from last year’s co-captain, Kate Herlihy, will be missed, but the spot will be filled by returning co-captain guard Krissy Morin ’06. Morin’s new co-captain is forward/center Katie Latham ’06. Rounding out the senior class is guard Ali Flato and forward/center Julie Smith.
The Jeffs will need more than leadership from this senior class, however, as much of last season’s success was due to stellar play from the class of ’06. Latham and Smith were dominant inside, racking up 153 and 112 rebounds, respectively, enough to keep both Jeffs among the NESCAC rebound leaders. Flato will also be an important contributor to the team this season, as a veteran player and a senior leader for this young group. Stopping the Jeffs means out-jumping these senior powerhouses, a task that competitors will find challenging.
With a new offensive strategy in the works, this senior class will lead a relentless team in contention for a NESCAC title. Each previous season has been a stepping stone towards what these women seek to accomplish in their final campaign at Amherst. “As a senior class, our record in the playoffs has improved each year,” said Smith. “I’d like to keep that going and end my career on a winning note.”
In contrast to last season, the Jeffs will utilize raw athleticism and a quick tempo to beat their opponents on offense. “We are looking to play a more fast-paced ‘run and gun’ offense as opposed to last year where we liked to slow it down and go through set offensive plays,” Morin said.
This new strategy will utilize the mix of veteran players and wide-eyed rookies to spark the Jeffs towards the NESCAC title. The team’s lone junior, guard Jenny Muller, is the team’s leading returning scorer, notching almost 10 points per game during the 2004-2005 season. Muller’s three point stroke makes the Andover, MA-native a big threat from outside the arc.
A transfer student last year, Muller will look to help her sophomore teamates improve on an impressive rookie campaign. Guard/forward Anne-Claire Roesch ’08, who missed most of last season due to injury, will look to help last year’s rookie standouts Shaina Pollack ’08 and guard/forward Stefanie Reiff ’08, who were both key contributors to the team’s success last season. Pollack had a career high 17 points at Suffolk University last season, and Reiff scored an impressive 21 points against conference foe Colby College.
A relatively large class of first-years will inevitably affect the team’s dynamic. The welcoming attitude of this squad’s veterans should make the transition smooth for the rookies. The seniors see the infusion of youth as an advantage. “I think the size and character of our freshman class is great,” said Smith.
Five first-years fill out this year’s roster-forwards Yasmine Harik and Susannah Ludwig and guards Stacy Brossy, Sarah Johnston and Amanda Otieno. “They all have the potential to really step up and contribute for us, and they’ve worked their way into the flow of the team,” said Latham. “I think they will have a real opportunity to play an important role in our success this year.”
Backing up the leadership of this team’s seniors will be Co-Head Coaches Billy McBride and Lynn Hersey. McBride is entering his 13th season for the Jeffs, sporting a 163-128 career record. In 2000-01, McBride was named NESCAC Coach of the Year, and he seeks to lead the team to new heights in 2005-06. In the past, Hersey has specialized in coaching the point-guard position, but will provide even more guidance for this year’s team, entering her first season as co-head coach.
The Jeffs open their season at home this Saturday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. against Emerson College in the annual Amherst Tip-Off Classic.
The members of the women’s basketball team have targeted certain NES-
CAC opponents. Williams College is on top of their list of teams to beat, followed by Wesleyan, Bowdoin and Bates Colleges. Bowdoin and Bates will provide the biggest challenges for the Jeffs. Bates finished last season with a 25-3 record, but graduated last season’s stand-out, Olivia Zurek, along with six other seniors. Bowdoin holds the NESCAC title that Amherst is out to steal. In 2004-05, the Polar Bears finished 26-3 and reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the fourth-consecutive season. Bowdoin graduated only two seniors, and returns star defender Justine Pouravelis.