Monday, October 25, 2010

New pieces fire up women's basketball quest for successful season

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On March 3, 2010 the Roger State women’s basketball team suffered a bittersweet season ender against No. 4 ranked opponent Oklahoma Baptist University.

Although the opportunity of making their first national tournament appearance was put to a halt, the Hillcats reached high levels competing in the SAC tournament semifinals for the first time in the program’s history.

Last season the dominant All-Conference post duo of Yoda Woods and Jenny Harding were the driving force behind the team’s successful season.

RSU women’s head basketball coach Amy Williams says the graduation of Woods and Hardin along with former all-conference point guard, Autumn Thompson, may have left a hole in the team’s program. But with the addition of five new players, the Rogers State’s women’s basketball team is going into the 2010-2011 season with a new look and a new attitude.

All five newcomers are guards. Angie Criner comes to RSU by way of the University of Georgia looking to add spark to the team with explosive athleticism on the wing.

The Tulsa native played her freshman season at Arkansas State while averaging 9.3 pointers per game. As a sophomore she played at Butler Community College in Kansas during the 2008-09 season. She averaged 17.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 3.4 steals per game for the Grizzlies. Criner played in 14 games before missing the second half of the season due to a shoulder injury.

Courtney Crockett, senior transfer from Delaware State University, holds the point guard position for the Hillcats. Crockett averaged 8.4 points and 2.8 rebounds while starting 27 games at Delaware State last season. She was a teammate at DSU of current Hillcat Candice Stewart from 2007 to 2009

“I think she will have a really special impact on our team because she is very solid in a lot of different areas,” said Williams.

Kristi Henderson is a senior transfer from the University of Great Falls where she led the team in scoring last season with 19.4 pointer per game.

Sasha Barnes is a junior transfer from Johnson County Community College. She played in all 32 games averaging 8.2 points and 3.7 assists per game.

Freshman Taylor Jeffs from Oologah High School pose threats for other teams with shooting capabilities.

Williams has the pleasure of returning six Hillcats that poured in big numbers for the Hillcats. Seniors Hunter Peterson and Andrea Miles are the last two remaining Hillcats from the 2007-2008 inaugurated season to lead the way for the team this year.

“They know what to expect in this league,” said Williams. “They can help relay that information and be good leaders for the rest of our team.”

Peterson earned honorable mention all-conference accolades last season for the second time in her career. She averaged 9.6 points per game while shooting over 30% from three-point range along with 46 steals of the season.

Miles is a defensive threat accumulating 102 steals in her three years as a Hillcat. She shot nearly 40% from the field and averaged 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

In the post position, 6’0’’ senior Candice Stewart who played mostly on the wing last season will now join Sophomores Logan Froese, Madison Harris and junior Brittany Smith in the paint.

Stewart started 24 out of 32 games last season averaging 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. She led the team in steals with a season total of 52.

Froese will also be force to reckon with in the paint this season. In her rookie year, she led the team in rebounding averaging 6.5 per game while shooting 52% from the field.

All four post have experienced significant minutes along side Woods and Hardin making vast improvements going into their second season as a Hillcat.

Though short-hand on posts, that hasn’t taken away from the team’s determination.

“I feel like it’s something we can adjust to because we’re more focus and people are willing to do what ever to sacrifice or go the extra mile for the team,” said Miles.

Meanwhile, the load of athletic guards is helping to even things out which is what the Hillcats are looking to use to their advantage.

“We have players that can create their own shot and go make plays,” said Williams. “We have some good solid post players that understand post positioning and how to seal and that gives us a little balance.”

Going into the new season, the women’s basketball team say they are more determined than ever before. The Hillcat roster is packed with upperclassmen who are hungry to reach the next level. With their eyesight on nationals, the women are focusing their pre-season on minor details.

“Coach says it everyday; just doing the little things,” said Peterson. “We need to capitalize on those little things; that’s what’s going to make us a better team.”

Williams says she has a talented group of girls that are capable of another 20-win season with a shot of making nationals but knows talent is not enough to get them there. Still in the early stages, RSU women are looking to smoothen out all the wrinkles as they prepare for the 2010-2011 season.

Photo: 2010-11 RSU women's basketball team
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Special thanks to former Hillpost sports editor Josh Haley!

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