WESTMINSTER, Md. – When head coach Becky Martin took the court with her 2007-08 squad last November, she knew her McDaniel women’s basketball team would take its lumps. She knew she had lost the majority of her scoring from a 23-4 campaign. However, she also knew she had the makings to reload and return the Green Terror to its position as a perennial contender in the Centennial Conference (CC) – even if things didn’t pay off during the year.
Youth will continue to carry McDaniel on return to top in 2008-09
McDaniel completed the year with a 13-13 record, seeing its run of six consecutive 20-win seasons come to an end. However with the return of most of last year’s squad and a crop of newcomers who will be counted on to contribute almost immediately, there’s reason to believe that that run of sub-20 win seasons could only last the one year.
“We’re still young,” the 28th-year mentor noted. “There’s no doubt about that. We’re more athletic overall, though, this year and that will allow us to do more of the things that we’ve always relied on for our success.”
The Green Terror did lose one of its more consistent scoring threats in Robbin Gregg, who averaged 11.8 points per game as a senior, but does return Ali Moreland (Davidsonville, Md./South River) and Ashley Lyles (Laurel, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti) – the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 scorers last season.
Add to those two juniors, Whitney Snoops (Millersville, Md./Archbishop Spalding), who saw significant time as a freshman, and the senior leadership of captains Kim Staub (Hanover, Pa./Delone Catholic) and Lauren Wyble (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park), and that gives McDaniel a solid foundation to acclimate its rookies to the college game.
“We’re definitely going to be looking to Kim and Lauren as seasoned veterans to help our freshmen,” Martin stated. “As seniors, they’re the ones everyone will be looking up to and they need to provide that leadership for us to be successful.”
Even though the Green Terror finished fifth in the standings last year, the squad was still in a familiar spot in the conference statistical categories – the top. McDaniel led the CC in field goal percentage (.422), free throw percentage (.724) and assists (17.35) but was fourth in scoring offense (66.8 ppg) and ninth in scoring defense (62.4 ppg). The latter two numbers will hopefully improve in 2008-09 with more consistent scoring threats and the more traditional up-tempo, pressure defense.
One place where the Green Terror will look offensively is Staub, who started 21 of 26 games last year and averaged 5.7 points per game. She added 86 rebounds, 36 assists, 18 steals and 13 blocks to her 147 points.
Likewise, Wyble will also be called upon to contribute more on the offensive end. As a junior, she saw action in all 26 games, making 20 starts. She was also one of the eight players to reach 100 points on the season, adding 109 but did most of her work on the glass, ranking second with 145 boards. She also nabbed 23 steals while dishing out 19 assists and blocking 13 shots.
Wyble started the 2007-08 campaign strong on the glass, reaching double figures in rebounding in each of the first four games, including a double-double performance (11 points, 13 rebounds) at Swarthmore on Nov. 27. She also led the team in field goal percentage, shooting .521 from the floor.
“Lauren’s a solid leader,” Martin said. “We’re going to look to her to guide the younger players but we also need her to step up and contribute more offensively.”
Danny Fraider (Radnor, Pa./Notre Dame Academy) rounds out the trio of seniors but has been hampered by injury in the preseason that could continue to slow her into the season. Plagued by injury for most of her time at McDaniel, she saw the most action last year, appearing in 20 games with five starts. She contributed 87 points, 36 rebounds and 18 assists.
Beyond its seniors, the Green Terror will look to a pair of juniors who gained valuable experience both in the starting lineup and off the bench as sophomores.
Moreland made 19 starts among her 25 appearances last season, ranking second on the team in scoring at 9.9 points per game. A quick guard, she is as much a factor on the defensive end as she is on the offensive end.
Moreland led the team with 49 steals but added 62 assists to her 248 points and .445 shooting from the floor and .757 accuracy from the free-throw line. She also pulled down 88 rebounds from the perimeter. She reached double figures in scoring 11 times last year, including pouring in a career-high 21 points at Swarthmore.
“We’re going to try to rely on our speed and pressure more this year,” Martin disclosed. “More of the things that have we’ve traditionally relied on for our success and Ali’s definitely a key component of that part of our game. Her speed and ability to slash are going to be very important this year.”
Lyles is the other part of the inside-out junior combination, starting 11 times among her 26 appearances. She also eclipsed 200 points on the season, ranking third with 203. She was third on the team with 123 rebounds and blocked a team-high 28 shots. She also handed out 28 assists and grabbed 15 steals. She shot .488 from the floor and a team-best .789 from the stripe.
“Given her height and stature, she needs to be our go-to post player,” Martin said. “She needs to be a threat in the paint for us, which I think she can definitely be.”
Sally Grace (Catonsville, Md./Mount de Sales Academy) showed her ability to score last season. McDaniel will look to her to continue to be that threat game in and game out during her junior campaign.
She capped her sophomore year with a career-high 18 points and six rebounds in the CC First Round game at Gettysburg, nailing five 3-pointers – a specialty Grace is known for. She hit 26 last year and has 47 in her two seasons on the Hill.
“We need her to be more of a well-rounded offensive threat this year and not just a 3-point threat,” Martin added. “She can definitely still hit from the outside but she’s really been working on scoring off the drive, which we need her to do.”
In addition to her 133 points last year, she added 54 assists, 25 steals and 48 rebounds.
Snoops leads a sophomore class that has made strides in the offseason, seeing the most time of any of the four-member class.
Snoops saw the court in each of the 26 games, making two starts. She ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 192 points and added a team-high 160 rebounds. She hit double-digit rebounds four times and double-figure scoring eight times. Two times those double-figure outings coincided for double-double performances, once against Bryn Mawr on Dec. 1 (13 points, 10 rebounds) and once at Dickinson on Feb. 12 (10-12).
Meredith Larsen (Phoenix, Md./Bryn Mawr), Kim Acton (Severna Park, Md./Severna Park) and Kate Zimmer (Ocean City, Md./Stephen Decatur) round out the returning players – all of whom will see an increased role.
Larsen and Acton appeared in 25 games with 71 and 34 points, respectively. Acton added 46 rebounds, 10 assists and five steals while Larsen contributed 34 rebounds, six assists, four steals and four blocked shots.
Zimmer saw the court 21 times last season, contributing 16 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks.
The Green Terror will look to its six newcomers for immediate contributions in order to see the success this season that the program has traditionally known.
Catherine Mills (Ijamsville, Md./Urbana), a junior transfer from Salisbury and Frederick Community College, will lead that group of rookies on the McDaniel squad.
With Moreland a solid contributor in the backcourt, it is likely Mills could be joining the speedster in the lineup and provide a 1-2 punch the Green Terror need.
“We’re elated and excited to have Catherine here,” Martin gleamed. “She’s a seasoned veteran in every sense. She’s very offensive oriented and will provide that extra scoring punch we need. She’ll definitely be seeing lots of court time early.”
Mills averaged 2.8 points per game and 1.9 rebounds per game, seeing time in all 26 games as a freshman at Salisbury before averaging 10.1 points per game last year at Frederick Community College.
Meg Biggart (Darien, Conn./Darien), Kelsey Franklin (Woodbine, Md./South Carroll), Katherine Restrepo (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing Area) and Kara Smith (Alpharetta, Ga./Northview) will all push for time at guard as freshmen while Emma Adams (Oneida, N.Y./Oneida) will likely see time at forward but could also appear in the backcourt.
“There’s no doubt these freshmen were recruited to contribute right away,” Martin noted. “The real question is going to be, ‘can we cheat the learning curve?’ If we can do that – or how quickly we can do that – will really determine how successful we’ll be.”
With the depth back this season that was lacking at times during last year’s .500 season, there’s reason to believe that a return to the top is possible despite being picked to finish fifth in the annual preseason poll of coaches and sports information directors. Muhlenberg was chosen as the favorite, receiving 13 first-place votes and 192 points. Gettysburg (172), Dickinson (154) and Franklin & Marshall (148) rounded out the top four, all receiving three first-place nods.
McDaniel opens the 2008-09 season at the Pepsi/Weis Markets Tip-Off Tournament at Susquehanna, on Nov. 22-23. The Green Terror opens the tournament against Rutgers-Newark on Saturday at 6 p.m.