2012-13 WWU Women's Basketball Preview
Oct. 21, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - Balance.
It might be the defining characteristic of the Western Washington University women's basketball team as the Vikings enter the 2012-13 campaign.
WWU has size and speed, inside and outside players, experience and youth. And it is quality balance, as four starters return from a team that was 22-8 a year ago, posting a 14-4 mark in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and reaching the West Regional semifinals of the NCAA Division II National Tournament.
Given all that, it does not come as a shock that the Vikings are ranked No.12 nationally in this year's Division II Bulletin Preseason Poll.
"We're so balanced, everybody from 1-to-12 brings something different," said WWU coach Carmen Dolfo, who enters her 22nd season with a 446-169 record. "Game-to-game, we could get a lot of huge contributions from different people. The challenge for us will be to find continuity."
A total of nine letter winners return for the Vikings, and all of them played regularly, seeing at least eight minutes a game.
Leading the way for the Vikings are four seniors, all of whom started last season - center Britt Harris (Marysville/Marysville-Pilchuck), forward Erika Ramstead (Everson/Nooksack Valley), guard Trishi Williams (Mabton) and guard Corinn Waltrip (Tigard, OR).
"All of our seniors have had major minutes, and they all understand the program and what we want," Dolfo said. "They also like each other, this is a team that really gets along. They compete together, not against each other."
Waltrip was a second-team all-GNAC pick last season, averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 3.7 assists while connecting on 91.2 percent of her free throws. She concluded the season by making a school-record tying 27 consecutive free throws.
"Corinn is a third-year starter at point guard, and our expectations of her are high," said Dolfo. "She needs to run the show, and she has the experience and intelligence to do that."
Harris had a breakout season as a junior, averaging 9.9 points and leading the Vikings in rebounding (6.5 avg.) and field-goal percentage (58.0, 120-of-207). She scored a career-high 23 points in the season-ending loss to UC San Diego in the regional semifinals.
"Britt had made huge strides by the end of last season," Dolfo said. "She has good touch and good rebounding instincts. She needs to stay out of foul trouble, but I think she started to do a better job of that toward the end of last year."
Williams averaged 9.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season, starting 20 of the 30 contests in her first season at WWU after transferring from Columbia Basin CC.
"Trishi made a huge impact last year," Dolfo said. "She can score, she can create, and she's a really hard worker. She adds a lot."
Ramstead averaged 4.0 points and 4.0 rebounds last year. Like Waltrip and Harris, she is a three-year letter winner.
"Erika is a great leader, someone who does all the little things," said Dolfo. "She's a great passer, she talks on defense, sometimes she's not seen as much as others, but I feel like she's vital to our team."
Four sophomores saw regular action last year as freshmen.
Forward Sydney Donaldson (Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway) recorded the most time, making 13 starts and averaging 5.8 points and 3.7 rebounds while leading the team in blocks (1.1).
Guard Katie Colard (McCleary/Elma) also averaged 5.8 points, hitting 47-of-134 (35.1 percent) on three-pointers.
Center Kayla Bernsen (Moses Lake) provided a presence inside, averaging 5.1 points and 4.1 rebounds in just over 12 minutes a contest.
Guard Jenni White (Spokane/East Valley) was a solid backup at the point, contributing 1.3 points and 1.0 assists.
Another sophomore returnee is guard Marcel Pounds (Bonney Lake), who redshirted last year after seeing action in 17 games in 2010-11.
With such an experienced, balanced squad, Dolfo says consistency will be an important element in 2012-13.
"Last year, we were inconsistent, both as individuals and as a team," she said. "We need to get to a point where we know what everybody is going to bring to a game."
WWU has gone to regionals in 13 of its 14 seasons as a NCAA II member, and reached post-season play in 39 of the program's 41 years.
The Vikings open their season with six home contests, beginning with the West Region Crossover Classic where they meet Azusa Pacific on Friday (7:30 p.m.), Nov. 16, and UC San Diego on Saturday (7:30 p.m.), Nov. 17.
WWU entertains British Columbia on Saturday (2 p.m.), Oct. 27, in an exhibition game at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
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