After just three weeks of regular season practice, women’s basketball will head to Rochester this weekend for its tipoff tournament. This will be Head Coach Pat Manning’s 20th season at the helm of the Williams squad. Last season did not fare so well for the Ephs, who finished their difficult season with a record of 7-18. However, this year’s team, which includes a mix of experienced returning players and new talent from the Class of 2013, has high hopes for this season.
This Eph squad will benefit from the leadership of their captain, found in the lone senior and shooting dynamo Elizabeth Hansen ’10. “This year our team is more mature than last year,” Hansen said. “Experience will help keep us poised in games.”
Hansen also pointed out that this year’s schedule is especially tough. “The NESCAC is going to be very strong; it’s possibly one of the best leagues in Div. III hoops,” she said. This year’s NESCAC opposition includes an Amherst squad that advanced to the Final Four last March, as well as perennial hoops powerhouse Bowdoin. Williams will face other challenges outside of the NESCAC, including Hope College and Baldwin-Wallace, who knocked the Ephs out of the Sweet 16 in nationals in the 2005-2006 season.
Facing such formidable competition, the squad anticipates that it will benefit from the roster of experienced and new players. Along with Hansen, the returning sophomores and juniors profit from ample game experience. Small forward Taylor Shea ’11 as well as dynamic post Chessie Jackson ’11 have been a part of the regular rotation since the 2007-2008 season.
Returning sophomores look stronger this year as well. Point guard Jill Greenberg ’12 looks ready to show more leadership while post Lisa Jaris ’12 has recovered from an ACL tear suffered last season.
“This year we’re expecting to have a lot more depth in the post than in recent years,” Hansen said. Ana-Rodriguez-Villa ’12 as well as Jaris, Jackson and newcomer Danny Rainer ’13 will provide this depth.
This season’s team includes five other freshmen as well. Along with Rainer the first-years include 6’3” forward Claire Baecher ’13, guard Steph Browne ’13, shooter Grace Rehnquist ’13, point guard Jen Borderud ’13 and guard Jenny Harding ’13. “The new class has a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Manning said. “They’ve been bringing intensity to our first practices, and we’ve had a great first few weeks as a team.”
With a strong roster, the team also welcomes back Assistant Coach Shevie Brooks as well as a new assistant: Elizabeth Ross. Ross was a 1,000-point scorer at Gettysburg College. Before joining women’s basketball for this season, Ross worked as the assistant athletics director at St. Andrew’s School in Delaware.
Despite the challenging season ahead, Manning is excited about the enthusiasm and desire that this year’s team has already shown. “We’ll have our hands full right off the bat,” said Manning, “but we’ve had a great preseason, nothing but positive attitudes and energy, so we’re ready to show what we can do.”
Williams will face off against Baldwin-Wallace at University of Rochester on Friday.