Women's Hoops to Have the Entire Package?

The 2009-2010 San Jose State women's basketball squad needed to get bigger, stronger, more talented and filled with players both buying into and implementing Coach Pam DeCosta's system, plus working for the necessary grades that will lead to a degree. Was that accomplished during the 2009-2010 recruiting periods?

In truth, nobody really knows, not even the coaching staff. Certainly not the sportswriters and bloggers or any other so-called experts, self-appointed or otherwise. That's because, in the former, actual results may vary from the production and potential that has been glimpsed by Coach DeCosta and her assistants -- just look at all the if, ands and buts attached to the first-rounders chosen in the recent NBA draft and this about a group of players studied under the proverbial microscope. As for the media grouping, there is nobody nor even any fan who has seen many or most or all, of the newcomers.

Speaking of 2008-2009 signees, a total of seven players agreed to become Spartans.

The four letter-of-intent signees were Alisha Eckberg, Britney Bradley, Rachel Finnegan and Samantha Marez

But three others will be in school come August 20: Marnesha Hall, Danielle Keenan and Brieanna Ashley.

Let's look at each newcomer.

Alisha Eckberg: She is 5-foot-11 and scored 15 points per game as a high school senior in San Diego. Her 31 points and eight boards led her team to a San Diego section championship -- this despite re-spraining an ankle that had caused her to miss 12 games during the season. She then scored 19 points and nabbed seven rebounds while being named the most valuable player in the area all-star game. Various accounts describe as tough and physical. Our sense is she will be a points producer of some degree in college, probably playing at the wing and definitely being a threat from long distance. Also, her academics were very strong in high school.

Britney Bradley: She played shooting guard in a defense-oriented system in high school and then became a 5-foot-8 point in an up-up-up tempo style at College of the Canyons (COC) in southern California. In one article, Bradley was described as quick with solid ballhandling ability. She averaged 13.4 points (second on the team), 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds a game in 2008-2009 and COC won two conference titles during her stay. Bradley has shooting range but her best talent appears to be taking the ball to the basket. It seems she will more than likely split play between the point and shooting guard positions.

Rachel Finnegan: Dare to call her a valley girl and you'll pay the price. The 5-foot-9 Finnegan is a basketball and workout junkie out of Turlock High and is the odds on favorite to start at the point even as a freshman. Her high school team won two consecutive league championships in her junior and senior seasons. She is a leader with an aggressive, vocal style -- it's simply a matter of how quickly she adjusts to college level play..

Samantha Marez: There's a trend here as the 6-foot-3 Marez' Central Arizona College team won the national championship in 2009 after losing in the title game the year before. She hasn't been a big scorer in college after showing some point production in high school (18 points per game) but her community college squad had five players average in double figures this season -- so point production was generously divided. Central Arizona employed a fast tempo offensive style, averaging almost 100 points a contest while pressing fullcourt defensively -- items of commonality for a number of this year's recruits. Marez will spit time at the four and five spots.

Now this hasn't been officially confirmed but it appears the women's squad is in APR Hell per the NCAA. The transition to a new coach plus academic shortcomings prior to DeCosta's tenure apparently has SJSU down four scholarships this season. So the three other recruits appear to be in a walk-on status until the 2010-2011 season when further scholarships will be available.

Marnesha Hall: A transfer from Chipola College in Florida, Hall is a 6-footer who will help up front, probably primarily as a four/power forward. She was one of the team's captains and spent two seasons in the Sunshine State after high school in San Diego. Hall and her teammates won the Florida state community college championship in 2009. David Lane coaches Chipola and everyone of the players have graduated during his tenure so academics for Hall should be of no concern during her San Jose State tenure.

Danielle Keenan: The 5-foot-11 Keenan is a deluxe defender and is the the first of two players coming to the Spartans from Bishop O'Dowd High in Oakland. Described as a leader and a battler, Keenan takes pride in unnerving opponents and taking them out of their games. She'll be an opportunistic scorer. We project her seeing time at the four position but also the wing.

Brieanna Ashley: Ashley is 6-foot-2 which isn't extraordinary for women's basketball but she possesses the talent for blocking shots -- 3.2 per game last season with a high of 10 for Bishop O'Dowd. Plus, ESPN had Ashley rated as the 50th best prepster in the country in December 2008. The catch is that Ashley suffered a knee injury this past season and the plan is for her to redshirt and rehabilitate in 2009-2010. Ashley is easily the recruit carrying the most potential that has been secured in Coach DeCosta's time as the SJSU coach but probably also since the Spartans have fielded a women's basketball squad.

Bishop O'Dowd women's basketball has a storied and winning history and the academics are top notch too, so Ashley and Keenan are expected to be helpful on the court and in the squad's collective grade point average.


  • What has been brought in? Better talent, recruits with stronger academic backgrounds and quality young women coming from winning situations.
  • There appears to be a number of role players on the squad and the need for one or two members to break out and become consistent point producers, go-to players if you will. The team defense is definitely going to be better and the boardplay likewise.
  • So can the win-loss record turn around in 2009-2010? Again, no one can predict with any real authority -- certainly not at this point -- so our sense is that expectations should remain in check -- certainly for next season. It's the following go-around that looks really interesting for the Lady Spartans, when Ashley finally takes to Walt McPherson Court, aided by Keenan, Eckberg and Finnegan having a year's seasoning.

Next we will look at some of the returnees to the team.

Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at kevin@insidesparta.com

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