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The WCC womens teams have been going through changes. A couple years ago St. Mary's was the dominant power but the Lady Gaels have been slipping and the Dosty twins just graduated. Pepperdine stepped up and took the lead in 2001-02 and the Lady Waves look strong once again, poised for a second straight title, but consider this: the Lady Zags, who won only two conference games last year, lost by a mere 4 points to Pepperdine in the WCC Tournament and led with two minutes to go in another encounter with the champions.
Translation: Parity in the WCC has never been more evident and literally any team can beat another on any given day, no exceptions.
In this article, Zags Hoops will break down all eight WCC womens teams, what players are projected to start, who returns and how much firepower each team has returning AND incoming freshmen or transfers. Zags Hoops will also predict, or try to, just how the teams will finish their 2002-03 season. It's tough as youth and uncertainty seem to rule the day.
First up, the Lady Toreros of the University of San Diego.
With over 65% of returning points from last year back in the fold to go with 65% of their rebounding back, San Diego should be no worse than they were last year. The projected lineup of 5'8" frosh Tiara Harris, 5'6" senior Kerri Nakamoto, 6'1" junior Melissa Padgett, 6'2" senior Erin Malich and 6'1" junior Marta Menuez provides proven, veteran players at every position except point guard where newcomer Tiara Harris will start. With 5'7" soph Brandi Collato and 5'9" senior Marie Plocher as backups, there is depth to bolster the point guard position. San Diego has four incoming freshmen, including Harris, and all are 5'11" or less. Nakamoto averaged 13 ppg, Padgett 4 ppg, Malich 15 ppg and Menuez 12 ppg. Though somewhat undersized, it appears that the Lady Toreros will rely on quickness instead.
The University of Portland Lady Pilots feature only two projected stars 6'0" or taller. They have only 47% of their points returning from last year as five players were lost via graduation. And like USD, an untested freshman will be put to the test at point guard, the toughest position on the court. The projected lineup looks like 5'6" frosh Whitney Grant, 5'8" soph Hanna Seltzer, 5'11" senior Ashlee Giles, 6'0" junior Khalila O'Rielly Williams and 6'1" soph Jamie Medley. Giles and O'Rielly Williams averaged 13 and 15 ppg last year while Seltzer and Medley scored 5 and 4 ppg, respectively.
Only 45% of rebounding returns and all but two players not starting are over 6'0" which could be problematic for UP. With five incoming freshmen the Lady Pilots will likely start slow and gain momentum as the frosh pick things up. But lack of size may hurt them all year.
The Santa Clara University Lady Broncos have all projected starters with solid scoring numbers from last year. SCU brings back 70% of their scoring totals and a hefty 86% of their rebounding per game. 5'6" soph Kayla Huss, 5'8" soph Quinn Thomas, 5'10" senior Tammy Annas, 6'1" senior Kendra Rhea and 6'1" Julie Butler should be the starting quintet. They average 3, 5, 11, 10 and 11 ppg, respectively. Despite nobody over 6'1", the Lady Broncos know how to rebound with Annas, Rhea and Butler grabbing 6, 7 and 6 rebounds per game. These three are all seniors and should provide leadership. Other returning players like 6'0" senior Courtney Cushing and 6'1" soph Kim Butler add solid numbers off the bench. SCU looks deep, having lost only two players.
The St. Mary's College Lady Gaels lost two stars in twins Jermisha and Jerkisha Dosty. These two combined for almost half of the team's point totals. St. Mary's will have 51% of their ppg back and only 50% of their rebounding back.. But don't count out SMC just yet. They have good size and a solid core of seniors returning. The projected lineup will likely be 5'6" senior Danielle Ferris, 6'0" senior Julie Morris, 6'2" senior Katie Davis, 6'1" soph Triola Alexander and 6'1" senior Natalie Kelly. Davis averaged 12 ppg last year and Morris put up 9. The others ranged from 4 to 5 ppg. The Lady Gaels will need a couple of players to step up and with four senior starters that just might happen.
The Loyola-Marymount University Lady Lions return a mix of sophs, juniors and seniors who bring with them 69% of 2001-02 points. All-WCC forward Kate Murray is a force inside as the team's 79% returning rebounds per game attests to. The projected starters for LMU is as follows: 5'6" junior Raelyn Self, 5'10" soph Mary Turner, 6'0" junior Jasmin Mathews, 6'0" senior Kate Murray and 6'3" junior Adrianne Slaughter. 4, 8, 3, 14 and 11 are their point averages from last year. The bench appears solid but not much scoring production with 4 ppg being tops. The Lady Lions do look to be have been a young team that is poised for sizeable improvement as underclassmen become upperclassmen this season.
The Pepperdine University Lady Waves appear to have it going their way for the season. All-WCC guard Damaris Hinojosa tops the talented list, along with Oregon State transfer forward Nicole Funn. Pepperdine returns 71% of ppg last year and 69% of rpg. With the addition of Funn and redshirted center Anna Lembke, the team point totals could very likely jump. The projected starters are 5'6" junior Shandrika Lee, 5'10" senior Damaris Hinojosa, 6'0" junior Nicole Funn, 6'1" senior Keani Christianson and 6'4" junior Shannon Mayberry. 10, 14, 11, 7 and 5 are their ppg, respectively. [Note: Funn's 11 ppg are from her soph year at Oregon State.] To help matters for the Lady Waves, the bench looks very deep with 5'7" senior Tamara McDonald at 9 ppg, and three post players who averaged 7, 4 and 4 ppg last season. Predominantly juniors and seniors, this squad will be tough.
The Lady Dons of the University of San Francisco returns good size and athleticism but they lost a ton of players, eight in all. That has to hurt and the returning totals show it. Only 44% of USF's ppg from 2001-02 is back, along with 47% of all rebounds per game last year. Several players will have to take their game up a notch to compensate for the graduated losses. The projected starters are 5'3" soph Toni Russell, 5'9" senior Lisa Whiteside, 6'0" junior Carey Sauer, 6'2" soph Mary Jane Krueger and 6'3" soph Leeanne Jensen. 6, 8, 12, 8 and 3 ppg, respectively. First off the bench will likely be 6'1" soph Angela Gibson who put up 6 ppg last year and 6 rpg. It appears to be a rebuilding year, that's the downside… The upside is that everyone will return next year.
Gonzaga University's Lady Bulldogs took a step in the right direction last year and beat San Diego and Portland while playing others close and competitively. Losing Jessica Malone will hurt but GU returns just about everyone else. 63% of ppg return, plus 70% of rpg. Even 68% of assists per game return. An early setback to those percentages, however, was experienced when starter 6'0" soph Juliann Laney tore an ACL and was forced to redshirt. Laney was ready for huge gains from last year's 6 ppg. The projected starting lineup now is 5'6" soph Shannon Mathews, 5'7" senior Triana Allen, 5'10" soph Raeanna Jewell, 6'1" soph Ashley Burke and 6'4" soph Delphine LeCoulture. 10, 4, 10 and 11 ppg, respectively, as LeCoulture is a transfer from France's INSEP and is new to the program this year. Six freshmen arrived for 2002-03 and either 6'1" Ashley Anderson or 6'0" Anne Bailey could eventually fill Laney's spot, but it's likely the veteran Allen will get the nod to start the year. The Lady Zags have lacked size and that has hurt them but by the time WCC play rolls around the starting rotation may only have two players shorter than 5'11". With as many as four frosh on the court last year, expect GU to be able to seal more games in tight situations this year, instead of making those costly "rookie" mistakes that proved to be the difference in numerous losses last year.
1. Pepperdine - 71%
2. Santa Clara - 70%
3. LMU - 69%
4. San Diego - 65%
5. Gonzaga - 62%
6. St. Mary's - 51%
7. Portland - 47%
8. San Francisco - 44%
1. Santa Clara - 86%
2. LMU - 79%
3. Gonzaga - 70%
4. Pepperdine - 69%
5. San Diego - 66%
6. St. Mary's - 51%
7. San Francisco - 47%
8. Portland - 46%
1. Pepperdine - 75%
2. LMU – 70%
3. Gonzaga – 67%
4. Santa Clara – 66%
5. San Diego – 58%
6. St. Mary's – 54%
7. Portland – 47%
8. San Francisco – 46%
So, is this the way the teams will finish? If only it were that easy; coaching, injuries, players blowing up, players overachieving/underachieving, chemistry, surprise freshmen and which way the ball bounces are but a handful of factors that will no doubt help provide another exciting and competitive season in the West Coast Conference. And only six of the eight teams will make the WCC Tournament this year, incentive to make every team play harder to avoid missing March.