Women’s Basketball Season Preview

Starting last season with a record of 1-10, to say that the women’s basketball team struggled in the beginning of the season is an understatement.
The team looked lost under first-year head coach Molly Tuter and seemed destined to end their season with another disappointing finish in the Big West Conference.
Suddenly, something clicked.
Whether it was the growth of their underclassmen or the continuity of a team finally working together, the women’s team finished the season with a 7-7 conference record and won five of their final eight games.
With the core group of starters returning from last year’s squad, the women’s team looks to build on their late season success as they officially start the 2006 season on Nov. 2.
‘We are all expecting big things to happen this year,’ said senior Angie Ned, the leading scorer for the Anteaters last season. ‘We are expecting to finish in the top three of the Big West and win the Big West Tournament so we can further our season into the NCAA tournament.’
The team will play a tough non-conference schedule, which will include Pac-10 powerhouses Arizona State and UCLA.
Junior forward Stephanie Duda, who along with Ned was named captain of this year’s team, will be a big part of the Anteaters’ success.
With Ned playing on the perimeter, the team will need Duda to continue her solid play inside the post to balance the Anteater’s offensive attack.
‘Both [Ned and Duda] give 100 percent during every work out, they are great role models for our younger players and they are both confident on and off the basketball court,’ Tuter said.
Height was also a big factor in many of the women’s team’s losses last season. When your leading rebounder is six-footer Kelly Cochran, it is easy to see why the women’s team was consistently out-rebounded and gave up many second-chance opportunities.
Cochran burst onto the season as a freshman last year, working her way into the starting lineup. She finished the year as the team’s second-highest scorer and will team up with Duda and Ned to provide the Anteaters with the bulk of their offense.
Tuter believes the team has solved their height troubles with the signing of three European players, two of whom are above 6 feet 3 inches.
‘Besides height, my foreign kids bring a lot to the table,’ Tuter said. ‘They all have been playing basketball year-round and have significant European experience. They are older than your typical freshman so that will bring a confidence and a maturity that will really benefit us.’
With the late season success and the long layoff during the summer, both the players and coaches believe the momentum will continue and rust will not be a factor heading into their season opener against Eastern Washington.
‘I do believe the momentum will carry over this year, but I also think that our team is surrounded by more fighters who just aren’t willing to lose,’ Ned said. ‘We are really hungry for wins, so we are going to try to kick off the season with some wins against great teams.’
The beginning of the season will also mark the start of Tuter’s second season as head coach