Nov. 3, 2006
Fans will get their first opportunity to see the LMU women's basketball team this Sunday when the Lions host the Melbourne Roos in an exhibition game in Gersten Pavilion at 7:30pm. Tickets will be available at the door, and Lions All-Access will be broadcasting the game for fans that can't make it to Gersten Pavilion. Free live video and audio is available on www.LMULions.com.
About Melbourne Roos...
The Melbourne Roos are playing an 11 game schedule in their tour of the United States. The team started its tour at California on Tuesday night, falling to the Golden Bears 81-55. Two players finished in double digits with Skye Rees scoring 14 points and Emma Andrews finishing with 11 points. The Roos faced UC Davis on Thursday night, and dropped a 70-51 decision. Dayna Schinz finished with 19 points and Hayley Munro added 12 points and eight rebounds. Melbourne will take on San Diego on Saturday before playing LMU on Sunday.
LMU opens the regular season at Stanford in the first game of the Preseason Women's National Invitational Tournament on Thursday night, November 9th. The game will be broadcast free and live on Lions All-Access on www.LMULions.com. The winner of the LMU-Stanford game will face the winner of the BYU-Idaho State game at a site to be determined. The second round game will be played on either Sunday or Monday.
The 2005-06 season was another good one for the Loyola Marymount women's basketball program. The Lions finished with a 17-12 overall record, a 10-4 WCC record, and they advanced to the WCC Tournament semifinals for the third straight year. Ashlee Dunlap was named the WCC's Newcomer of the Year and a first-team All-WCC selection. Amanda Patton broke the LMU single season record for three-pointers en route to earning WCC Honorable Mention honors. It was another good season. But for these Lions, good isn't good enough anymore. Good was the old expectation; great is the new one. The 2006-07 Lions are striving to be great.
There were moments of greatness last season- a 29 point win over Gonzaga, a 27 point win over UC Santa Barbara, an eight game winning streak and a Dartmouth Tournament Championship. There were several moments of individual greatness last season ¬Dunlap's 12 double doubles, Patton scoring 29 points against Long Beach State and Amanda DeCoud earning MVP honors at the Dartmouth Tournament. But in the end, those moments of greatness didn't add up to a great season. LMU fell one point short in the WCC Tournament semifinals, and one game short of a WCC regular season championship. Being so close yet so far away will keep these Lions hungry and provide motivation to live up to the expectations of being picked to win the West Coast Conference.
A crop of new faces will join the experienced returners in their quest towards a conference championship. Head Coach Julie Wilhoit returns for her 12th season to guide these Lions from good to great.
The road to greatness consists of doing all the little things, and doing them consistently well. "If we can take care of the little things and be that player that is passionate and committed daily to the things we're trying to achieve, we'll be successful," said Wilhoit.
LMU returns several experienced veterans to the post spots in 2006-07.Leading the way is the 2006 WCC Newcomer of the Year Dunlap. The senior forward dominated the paint last season en route to earning first team All-WCC honors. She led the conference in double doubles, with seven coming in conference games, and earned the WCC Player of the Week Honors four times.
"Ashlee is going to be a little bit of a surprise this year, not only to our team, but our opponents. Ashlee looks different to me this year. She's gained some muscle, as well as confidence and determination. She knows what she wants and she knows that she if she stays focused she will not only achieve her goals, she will help the team achieve its goal of a conference title. She is extremely confident this season and very capable," said Wilhoit.
Dunlap broke the LMU single season record for rebounds last year, and her 151 boards in WCC play was the third highest in conference single season history. For the year, Dunlap averaged a double double at 11.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. In addition, she also recorded 31 steals and 12 blocks, while dishing out 34 assists. Dunlap took over games with her aggressive nature and controlled the paint with her long arms and outstanding positioning.
Junior Valerie Ogoke looks to continue where she left off at the end of last year when she recorded back to back double doubles in the last weekend of the regular season. The forward became a much more consistent offensive threat by the end of the season to go with her tenacious defense. Ogoke led the team in blocks (32) and was second on the team in steals (43) last season.
"Valerie is one of the most athletically talented post players we have coached in a long time. She is long, fast, quick, and strong and all of those skills will allow her to improve her game. She has another year of maturity, which gives her more confidence, more determination and more consistency," said Wilhoit.
Bronwyn Evans also brings two years of experience to the post position. She started 11 games last season and brings leadership and maturity to the court. Her knowledge of the team's system will benefit the large group of newcomers.
"Bronwyn is the voice behind the players. She has tremendous knowledge of the game, and also brings a level of confidence. She knows the answers to every defensive and offensive question, and her teammates look to her for those solutions," Wilhoit commented about the junior forward.
The fourth returning post player is sophomore Jenna Sybesma. Sybesma took advantage of her opportunities as a freshman, making 70% of shots attempted. She appeared in 12 games last season, and has made tremendous strides over the summer to put herself in a position to contribute from day one this season.
"Jenna could be the surprise player of the year. She is a very effective scorer. She knows how to score around the bucket, and how to play with her back to the bucket. She's a gamer and she really responds to the game of basketball well," said Wilhoit.
The Lions add three new post players to their inside corps this season. One player will be new to the box score, but not new to the team. Jennifer Hall will join the Lions on the court this season after transferring from Vanderbilt. After sitting out last year, Hall is ready to make an impact with LMU in 2006-07.
The former McDonald's All-American played 28 games for the Commodores as a freshman. Hall brings a tremendous amount of talent to the team, and her size and skill around the basket, combined with her outside shot will give the Lions a number of different looks. In addition, her maturity and leadership heading into her fourth year of college is unmatched.
"She has so much determination, and has the biggest heart when it comes to being competitive, having the desire to win, the desire to compete and the desire to improve. Because of that, she has prepared herself to be ready to play this year. She is one of the most respected people on our team. She leads with her voice and she leads by example. Everything she does is very consistent with wanting to be the best."
A pair of freshmen round out the post players. Maggie Burkett, the Gatorade Player of the Year from Idaho has shown tremendous improvement in her short time at LMU, and her continued improvement will only help the team.
"Everything about Maggie, athletically, has improved since the summer and that has made her a different basketball player than when she came in here. She is progressing, a quick learner, and very coachable," said Wilhoit.
Aleyse Evans has the size of a post player but moves like a guard. She knows how to post wide, and has great body positioning. An offensive threat, Evans has a great touch around the rim, and knows how to shoot and score with her back to the bucket.
"She will help our inside game, and defensively she is so tenacious because she is so determined. She is a hard worker, and this kind of work ethic will take her places, and help take our team places," Wilhoit said about her young post player.
Three experienced guards will be joined by four newcomers this season. The experience and leadership of the returning guards should help the freshmen in their transition to college basketball.
Leading the way is Patton. The senior had a breakout season in 2005-06, more than tripling her career scoring average en route to earning WCC Honorable Mention honors. A three-point specialist, Patton broke the LMU single season record for three-pointers with 67, and tied the LMU single game record when she went 7-for-8 from three point range against Long Beach State. Patton finished the season with a 10.6 point scoring average and started 25 of 29 games.
"Everyone knows Amanda can shoot the three. But now she has developed some confidence to also drive to the basket, and that's the big piece in her game that developed over the summer. If you're going to overplay her and come out so far on her on the three, she's got some other things she has worked on- footwork, ball handling that are going to allow her to be a slasher. Her three is going to be the strength and it's going to create opportunities for other players," said Wilhoit.
DeCoud brings two years of extensive playing time into her junior season. Coming off the bench last season, DeCoud averaged 23 minutes a game and led the team in assists and steals. In addition, she averaged 6.6 points per game and earned MVP honors at the Dartmouth Tournament. When DeCoud was hot last season, the Lions were hot. During a nine game stretch, she averaged 11.4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals a game to lead the Lions to an 8-1 record.
"Mandy's game this year is going to be about consistency, about being consistently good. Even when she has a bad day, she has so much skill that she can still have a good ³bad" day and be a good basketball player. She can shoot, she can slash, she can handle the ball, she can lead, she can rebound, and she can pass. She does so many things so well that if one piece is off, she has so many things that she can do. She's always got her staples- her speed, her quickness and her long arms. She can defend. That's one piece of her game that she never has trouble with. The other pieces are coming together," Wilhoit said.
Cassady Moore came back from the summer with a newfound sense of confidence that has changed her game. As a freshman, she appeared in 20 games, and used her quickness to secure 13 steals. This season, she has added a more consistent shot to her arsenal and the coaching staff has seen a remarkable growth in the sophomore.
"Cassy has been a great beneficiary of maturity. Defensively, she is going to drive people nuts this year. The piece in her game that she has worked on is more confidence in her shot," said Wilhoit.
A quartet of freshmen add depth to the Lion guards. Leading the way is Lisa Helmers. The newcomer has adapted quickly to the college game and is ready to contribute. A strong outside shooter, the rookie from Tempe, AZ arrived in Westchester with the skills to compete for playing time immediately.
"Lisa is having a great preseason. She is extremely confident and loud. The college game has not fazed her. She's right with it. She has blended in beautifully," Wilhoit commented.
Joining Helmers from Arizona is Jessica Vargas. The newcomer is an outstanding defender and will be looked upon to provide offense as well.
"Jessica is a defensive specialist with a beautiful shot, very natural, and very smooth. Defensively, she's tenacious. She's cat quick, long, and will get a lot of deflections that lead into steals. It's going to be fun coaching her," said Wilhoit.
Kavita Goss comes into LMU after an illustrious career at Newbury Park High School. A tough and smart guard, Goss will bring a competitive fight to the Lion squad.
"Kavita is extremely smart on the court. She knows fundamentally everything we're teaching her. She understands the defenses, the shifts, and executes with near perfection. She is one of the toughest, most competitive kids we've coached in a long time," Wilhoit said.
The final member of the Lion guard corps is Ivanna Warren. The Lynwood, CA native brings an accurate outside touch to the team but is still recovering from a high school knee injury and is working her way back.
"Ivanna is a welcome surprise. She can shoot the ball well and has a nice touch," commented Wilhoit.
The Lions open the season as part of the 16 team field in the Preseason Women's National Invitational Tournament at Stanford on November 9th. LMU will participate in three non-conference tournaments in preparation for West Coast Conference play.
LMU begins WCC play in Gersten Pavilion on January 5th against Gonzaga, and will host seven conference games leading up to the West Coast Conference Tournament in Portland, March 1st-4th.