2007-08 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL PREVIEW
Oct. 16, 2007
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - An experienced core of players leads the Western Washington University women's basketball team into the 2007-08 season.
Four starters are back among eight letter winners from last year's 18-10 squad that went 10-6 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and earned a ninth consecutive trip to the West Regional of the NCAA Division II National Tournament. Three of the top four scorers are back, all of them with multiple years of extensive playing time.
The key for the Vikings will be finding a way to overcome the inconsistency of a year ago that saw them drop five of their last eight games after a 15-5 start.
"We need to be more consistent," said Western coach Carmen Dolfo (17th year, 347-122), who ranks ninth among active NCAA II coaches in winning percentage (.740) and 25th in career triumphs. "Victories go to the teams making fewer mistakes, and we made too many last year. We need everyone to take a step up this year."
McCarrell is the top returning scorer, averaging 10.9 points last season while shooting a team-best 49.1 percent (115-of-234) from the field. She also contributed 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists. McCarrell could see some time at shooting guard this season.
"She's been working on her outside shooting in case we use her there," said Dolfo. "She runs the floor well, and she's improved her speed every year she's been in the program. That's helped make her a good defensive player - Liz has the ability to stop strong offensive players."
Robinson, who has struggled with knee and leg injuries throughout her career, averaged 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds, but her biggest contribution is at the defensive end, where she averaged 2.9 blocks a game last year, leading the GNAC and ranking fourth nationally. Her 182 career blocks rank second in school history.
"Krystal is a good rebounder, and obviously, she is a defensive presence," Dolfo said. "More than that, she's the heart of our team. She brings a lot of emotion to the game."
The only other senior, guard Elyse Hartman (Chugiak, AK/Eagle River), will miss the year because of a knee injury suffered midway through last season.
Also back up front is junior center Claire Pallansch (Redmond), who averaged 7.7 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds.
The other returning starter is junior guard India Soo (Kamuela, HI/Kamehameha). Soo averaged 4.3 points, 2.5 assists and a team-high 1.8 steals last year.
Junior forward Sarah Schramm (Chelan) is the top returning reserve. She averaged 4.5 points and 3.7 rebounds last season despite battling shoulder problems.
Also returning from last season are sophomore center Krista Lersch (Bothell) and sophomore forward Gabby Wade (Lacey/River Ridge). Lersch averaged 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds, Wade 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds.
Two other players have time in collegiate programs. Freshman guard Amanda Dunbar (Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck) redshirted last year. She averaged 17.6 points a game as a high school senior and provides an outside shooting threat.
Sophomore center Tara Holgate (Everett/Snohomish County Christian) is a transfer from NCAA Division I Eastern Washington, where she averaged 3.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while making 17 starts.
Completing the roster are four freshmen - center Lauren Hefflin (Ridgefield); forward Kristin Schramm (Chelan), who is Sarah's younger sister; and guards Kaitlin McBride (Bothell) and Marelle Moehrle (Lynnwood/Meadowdale).
The Vikings get an early start to the season, playing in the Disney NCAA II Tip-Off Classic on Nov. 2-4. Included in those three games is a match-up with defending West Region champion UC San Diego, which knocked Western out of the national tournament last year.
"It gives us three extra games, against quality opponents," Dolfo said. "It's a challenge in the preseason to get ready that soon, but it is fun for the team, and a great team-building experience."
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