Season Preview: Women's Basketball ready to take next step in CAC play
SALISBURY, Md. – After a successful 2011-12 campaign, Head Coach Kelly Lewandowski is excited for her second season in which the Sea Gulls are looking to make big strides to meet their potential.
Salisbury, which finished last season 15-11 overall and 11-5 in the Capital Athletic Conference, returns five veterans while adding 10 new faces, three of which are transfers.
"We definitely have a mix of talent with five returners, three transfers, and the rest in their rookie season," said Lewandowski. "The returners are leading by example and using their experience to be great leaders but there will be great opportunities for newcomers to have a lot of playing time and step up as leaders themselves."
The combination of talent is looking to build upon its top-three finish in the CAC in 2011-12.
"We want to build on that," said Lewandowski. "We talked about goals with the team at practice and one of the goals is to finish in the top of the conference again and host that first playoff game and from there we hold fate in our own hands."
The Sea Gulls return CAC Rookie of the Year, sophomore Anna Hackett who will be looked to as the on-court leader. "Anna had a great season last year," said Lewandowski. "We are looking for her to develop her game even more and with a year under her belt we are looking for her to provide a lot of leadership on the court."
"Alexis is someone who does all the little things for us," said Lewandowski. "She is very vocal and a great defender."
McManus joined the Sea Gulls in the spring semester last season. Lewandowski has seen the guard show great strides from last year and is looking for the sophomore to be a strong threat from the field.
Kebetz led the team in three-pointers last season and rounds out the returning guards. The sophomore's long range will be used out in the wing position as she has the ability to shoot from well beyond the 20-foot arc.
King will share time at the point guard position. The coaching staff has been impressed with King's ability to defend and move quickly down court with the ball, helping the Sea Gulls transition from one end of the floor to the other seamlessly, while also looking to take a shot of her own.
Price, Toole, and Oristian are all true freshmen and are joined by Verica in their first season of NCAA basketball.
Salisbury returns senior forward Katie McGahagan as the only experienced Sea Gull in the post. "Katie has a lot of leadership having been a four-year player," said Lewandowski. "She is very strong and has the ability to play both inside and outside, making her very versatile." McGahagan is a key rebounder for SU having posted six games in which the senior captain had 10 rebounds or more.
Looking to step in the small forward position are McLaughlin, Albornoz, Hobbs, and Himes; each bringing a critical aspect of the game to the court.
McLaughlin has started the preseason off strong, impressing the coaching staff with her ability to drive and pull up. Also in the forward position is Albornoz whose passing and ability to read the floor will help the Gulls throughout the season. The Lutherville, Md., native will also be looked to make an impact on the boards with her rebounding.
During the off-season, the maroon and gold picked up Hobbs, a Wesley College transfer, and Himes who transferred from Methodist College. SU's coaching staff has noted Hobbs' ability to finish inside, while Himes will be looked to make a difference in the post position.
"Becca provides the experience, even as a transfer, since she has had a year of college basketball under her belt," said Lewandowski. "She is our top defender, especially in the post, and her hard work ethic and ability to do a lot of the little things keep our team going."
With a united group of 15, who are dedicated and have worked hard throughout the preseason the Sea Gulls look forward to their opening contest.
Salisbury will open its season on Friday, Nov. 16 against Montclair State University at the Gwynedd Mercy Tournament. They will then have the opportunity to play Gwynedd Mercy College twice this season, which played in the 2012 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball tournament.
The Sea Gulls look to improve on their CAC finish from last year but in order to do that they will have to get past No. 13 University of Mary Washington and No. 19 York (Pa.) College. Both teams competed in the NCAA tournament last season. Salisbury will get its first chance against York on the road on Jan. 9 and will then host Mary Washington on Jan. 12.
The maroon and gold will open up at home on Tuesday, Nov. 20 against Virginia Wesleyan College at 5:30 p.m., and will host its Optimist Tournament at the end of November, the first day of play will be on Friday, Nov. 30 as the Sea Gulls take on Valley Forge Christian College at 5:30 p.m.