2011-12 WWU Women's Basketball Preview
Oct. 28, 2011
BELLINGHAM, Wash. - With just four letter winners returning from a squad that took the regular-season Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship, the watchword for Western Washington University women's basketball coach Carmen Dolfo is "patience."
The Vikings were 26-4 a year ago, going 17-1 in the GNAC and reaching the championship game of the conference tournament as well as the opening round of the NCAA Division II West Regional. But just four letter winners return.
It's as small a group of returnees as Dolfo has ever had, although the coach, who enters her 21st season with a record of 424-161 and ranking 18th among active NCAA II coaches in wins and 12th in winning percentage (.725), points out that three redshirts give some additional continuity.
"We've always had a situation where the older players teach the younger ones," said Dolfo. "But with one exception, none of the players have been here more than two years. So we've placed a real focus on leadership, on developing those skills because nobody has really been in that position before."
Of the four returnees, the lone returning starter is junior guard Corinn Waltrip (Tigard, OR). Waltrip started all 30 games last year, averaging 8.3 points and 2.7 assists. She is a solid point guard who can sometimes score in bunches, posting 19 and 23-point games in the first two rounds of the GNAC tourney last season.
"Corinn is a good floor leader who has that experience at running the point," Dolfo said. "It's great that we have someone who can provide that at point guard, because it's the position where it's the toughest without it."
Schramm was the top scorer off the bench last season, contributing 8.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 19 minutes a game.
"Kristin is a hard worker and great shooter," said Dolfo. "As the only senior she has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, and she wants to step up and take that on."
Ramstead averaged 4.5 points and 3.2 rebounds last season.
"Erika's ready to take on a bigger role," Dolfo said. "She's very strong, and has some unique abilities as a passer and ball-hander in the post."
Harris averaged 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds.
"The final half of last season, Britt started to step up," said Dolfo. "She can score, she's a good rebounder, and I think she'll make an impact. She won't back down to anyone."
The three redshirts are all freshman guards - Erin Feeney (Mill Creek/Jackson), Katie Colard (McCleary/Elma) and Jenni White (Spokane/East Valley). Feeney and Colard are outstanding shooters, while White provides depth at point guard.
Two transfers also bolster the backcourt. Junior Brandi Benner (Lynden) was the MVP of the NWAACC Northern Region last year at Skagit Valley CC, averaging 12.9 points, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals. Junior Trishi Williams (Mabton) was the East Region MVP at Columbia Basin CC, averaging 12.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists.
Up front, there's also a core of newcomers who have brought an infusion of size. Sophomore center Sarah Hill (Richmond, VA/Lloyd C. Bird) and freshman center Kayla Bernsen (Moses Lake) are both 6-foot-3. Hill played at NCAA Division I Maryland-Baltimore County in the 2008-09 season. They're joined by freshman forward Sydney Donaldson (Edmonds/Edmonds-Woodway).
Western led the GNAC in 3-point percentage (.358) and 3-pointers made (209) last season. Dolfo said this year's squad is also loaded with good shooters, and should be helped by having more size in the posts.
"We just need to be patient, its going to be a process," said Dolfo. "I'm really excited. It's going to be fun to watch this team's learning and improvement."
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