With the Women’s Basketball season now underway; the New University has compiled a brief preview for the Big West Conference’s eight competing teams. The Anteaters and the other conference members will have to fight hard to overcome the dominance of UC Santa Barbara, who’ve won the conference an incredible nine straight seasons.
Predicted finish: Fifth
Head Coach Molly Tuter is working to develop the Anteater’s strong perimeter offense and free-throw shooting, as well as to cultivate a strong defense. Tuter confidently commented that, ‘I will pride myself on our defense and our discipline,’ and stressed that the Anteaters will, ‘be up in your face.’
This aggressive strategy will be important for the Anteaters this season. After struggling in the beginning of last season, a second-half rejuvenation led to a berth in the conference tourney. They ranked second overall in the Big West conference for blocked shots and three-point field goals; a more ‘up in your face,’ strategy will be necessary for the team to rake in more W’s.
Tuter, who played college ball at UCLA, further cited the importance of a hard work ethic. She stated that the team will have to focus on every aspect of training, ‘from running sprints to lifting weights to making layups.’
The Anteaters return junior guard and leading scorer Angie Ned as well as senior leaders guard Melissa Jacob, forwards Lauren Yadon and Joanna Usher.
UC Santa Barbara
Predicted Finish: First
The Gauchos were number one in the standings for the 2004-2005 season. The talent that pulled the Gauchos forward last year has largely graduated and this year’s team only returns three upperclassmen. Last year’s squad was led by Kristen Mann, MVP of the all-conference women’s team who later moved on to the WNBA.
Still, the Gauchos are talented. Senior forward Autumn Nichols and sophomore guard Ana Onainda, among others, averaged 58.5 percent shooting and 42.9 percent beyond the arc, respectively.
Furthermore, UCSB’s Women’s Basketball team has been the conference’s lone representative from the Big West in the NCAA tournament for the past 10 years. Head Coach Mike French is using methodical training to compensate for his very young team.
French, in his 20th year as head coach of the Gauchos, said that his team will ‘focus on doing a few things really, really well.’
Cal State Long Beach
Predicted Finish: Second
The 49ers went 19-9 last year, their best record since the 1999-2000 season. Long Beach performed well on both offensive and defensive fronts and is expected to do very well this season.
This year’s team features senior guard Crystal McCutcheon, who shot 47 percent from the three point line last season. Although the team includes eight newcomers, Head Coach Mary Hegarty sees this as an opportunity rather than a flaw.
Cal State University
Predicted Finish: Third
Between 2001 and 2004, the Matadors won a total of 11 games; between 2004 and 2005, Northridge bagged it’s best-ever season in the Big West, placing fourth with an 18-7 overall record.
‘Well, I think our freshmen and our sophomores … were finally juniors,’ said Staci Schulz, Head Coach of the Matadors. ‘They finally grew together.’
The Matadors have three seniors and seven juniors