Oct. 13, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco women's basketball team started it's second season under Coach Tanya Haave as practice kicked off at Memorial Gym Saturday afternoon. The Dons look to make a move up the West Coast Conference standings after finishing 2006-07 with a record of 10-21.
"It's always good to have preseason over with," Haave said. "Now we can get started. We've got some work to do before the season starts."
2006-07 was one of ups and downs for the USF Women's Basketball team and entering the second season of her tenure Head Coach Tanya Haave is preaching one thing - consistency.
The Dons had some great moments in 2006-07. In the annual Odwalla Classic, held at War Memorial Gym, the Dons topped Southern Illinois, the 2006-07 Missouri Valley Conference Champions. San Francisco defeated Florida State 67-64 on December 20 behind 16 points from both forward Dominique Carter and guard Shay Rollins. On January 2, USF took on Nevada, an eventual NCAA tournament team, and took care of business with a 65-55 victory. And then, of course, the Dons defeated San Diego, the WCC tournament second seed, as the seventh seeded competitor. It's hard to believe that on the flip side they won just 10 games and finished in the bottom third of the WCC standings.
"I've told my team that this year I'm looking for a higher level of play." Haave said. "I think we're ready to do that. I'm excited about the season ahead and I think that the players are just as excited."
USF returns four starters, with forward Nikki Warren being the only loss, and eight letter winners from 2006-07. The group back includes Carter, a three-time West Coast Conference First Team selection, Rollins, a 2006-07 WCC Honorable Mention performer, 2006-07 WCC All-Freshman Team member Heidi Heintz, senior center Lisa Olden and senior guard Nykia Peace. Add in a solid recruiting period in which Haave and her staff added five newcomers, two transfers and three freshmen to their remaining cast, and it looks like USF is on the right path.
Carter enters her season as one of the best players to ever wear the Dons' uniform and her legacy will continue to grow through the upcoming year. If she puts up numbers comparable to those she's recorded in her first three she'll be sure to join former USF great Brittney Lindhe as the only WCC players to earn conference first team honors four times. On the San Francisco career records list, Carter sits seventh with 1,262 points. Over her career she's had 20 games scoring 20 or more points, including two with 30.
"Dominique has been on teams that have not won a lot but she's earned a lot of individual honors," Haave said. "She's going to be one of the best players to ever come out of this program and one of the best ever in the WCC. Dom would give up the individual honors in order to have a team that could challenge for the WCC title and go to post-season. That's the one thing that is missing from her resume."
The USF staff has brought in junior transfer Necolia Simmons, a dominating presence at San Joaquin Delta College where she earned JC Kodak All-American honors and averaged around 16-points and eight-rebounds, to be a second option for needed baskets. Simmons, skilled at almost all parts of the game, provides power under the basket, something the Dons have lacked in recent years. San Francisco beat out Big-12 school Indiana as well as Nevada, to name a few, for her services the next two years.
Coming off the bench in a sixth man role for the Dons will sophomore Heidi Heintz, a WCC All-Freshman Team member in 2006-07. Over the course of last year, the 5-9 Heintz played both inside the post and on the perimeter proving to be extremely verstile in how and where she have an impact on the floor. She scored in double digits six times last year including a 17-point outburst against Pepperdine on January 13, and had five games with seven or more rebounds. She recorded her first career double-double, 10 points, 10 rebounds, at Fresno State (12/16). Putting in the work, Heintz has shown through the preseason that she wants to be counted as a contributor."Heidi's basketball IQ is very high," Haave said. "Of all the returners she's worked the hardest on her game. I'm looking for her to be a major factor in our team this year."
Peace is recognized as one of the team's vocal leaders and rightfully so. She started all 31 games last year as the Dons floor general and led the team with 2.74 assists and 1.29 steals per game. As a junior, Peace set a career-high with 10 assists in USF's victory over Santa Clara on February 18. Peace will be expected to continue find the open player in what looks to be an improved offense.
The second leading scorer from a season ago was sophomore Shay Rollins, averaging 10.7 points per game. Rollins is a competitor, who plays with high energy and finds ways to put the ball in the hoop. Rollins followed a freshman campaign which saw her earn WCC All-Freshman team honors, with an WCC Honorable Mention selection as a sophomore.
"Shay has the ability to be an impact player," Haave said. "We just need Shay to understand her role. Sometimes she'll try to win a game by herself. If she plays her game within the team framework she'll be even more effective. It's just comes down to channeling her energy in the right direction."
Putting in 21-points in the Dons' upset of San Diego in the 2006-07 WCC Tournament first round, showed Rollins is capable of scoring in big game situations. With that Rollins will join Simmons and Carter as the team's primary offensive weapons for USF.
One of the biggest improvers a season ago, Olden looks to continue the trend. As a junior, Olden averaged 7.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, a big jump from her sophomore output of 3.5 ppg and 2.8 rpg.
"Lisa's confidence is at a high right now and she enjoys playing the game again," Haave said. "She will give you everything she has, every second she is on the floor. I would like to see the same jump statistically that she made last year in 2007-08. That would put her into All-conference range."
With its returners and its new additions, the San Francisco Women's Basketball program have what it takes to be more competitive in 2007-08 then they were a season ago. At least that's how it looks on paper.
Head Coach Tanya Haave wants her players to find consistency at the highest level of play they are capable of. As witnessed by last year's successes against some forminable foes, it is possible for USF to win against anyone when they're on.
In any regard, the season should have many exciting story lines as Carter goes for her fourth WCC first team selection, Simmons brings her game to the Division I level and the remainder of the Dons continue to improve.
USF plays two exhibition games at War Memorial Gyn against Sonoma State and San Francisco State on September 1 and 6. Both games begin at 7 p.m. PT. The Dons Sunday, November 11 against Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. Tip-off against the Bears is set for 3:00 PM (PT).