Women to improve winning season, sixth-place finish

Women+to+improve+winning+season%2C+sixth-place+finish

Zhaoyang Wang

Junior Erin Hollinger shoots despite being double-teamed. Hollinger led the Spartans with a game-high 23 points.

Nora Fitzgerald, Contributing Reporter

The Case Western Reserve women’s basketball team is eager to begin play in the 2010-2011 season. Seeking their third winning season in four years, the Spartans are coming off a 13-12 finish last year and look to continue their winning ways.

The Spartans have their eyes set on improving on last year’s 6th place finish in the University Athletic Association. The goal is by no means an easy one, the Spartans graduated the fourth highest scorer in team history and are currently ranked seventh in the UAA preseason coaches poll.

Head coach Jennifer Reimer isn’t concerned and has high ambitions for her players. Her ultimate goal is for the team to finish in the top four of the conference, but she understands this aspiration is no easy task.

“The UAA is consistently the strongest conference in Division III and each year we work towards improving,” said Reimer. “Our upperclassmen have put in the work during the off-season to improve their shooting and their strength. We feel if we can be at the top of our game defensively, score as a result of our defensive pressure, and improve our rebounding statistics from last year, we’ll have a successful season.”

Although conference opener on Jan. 8 at Carnegie Mellon University is fast approaching, the team keeps its focus on practicing hard and preparing both mentally and physically for the non-conference season. Coach Reimer stresses that the team plays hard everyday at practice.

“This season, we’re really focused on taking one day at a time. So in terms of expectations, we expect to get better every single day. Tomorrow we will be better than we were today. Obviously we’re always looking to make the tournament, but we’re really focusing on not getting too caught up in the big picture and working to better ourselves every day,” said sophomore center Emily Mueller.

Despite losing star guard Ashleigh Tondo, who graduated last May as the fourth highest scorer in school history, the team is ready to move forward. Caitlyn Henry, the team’s sole senior, will lead the Spartans this year both on and off the court. Last season, Henry averaged 11.9 points-per-game and started in 23 games. She has a dominating presence on the floor, both as a vocal leader and a strong player.

Besides Henry, the team returns three other starters from last year’s squad: Erin Hollinger, Evy Iacono, and Erica Iafelice. Junior forward Erin Hollinger averaged 14.2 points per game last season and was named to the first-team All-UAA last season. Not only is she a scorer, her 49 blocks were tops in the UAA last season.

Furthermore, sophomore guards Evy Iancono (11 ppg) and Erica Iafelice (4.4 ppg) both started as freshmen last year and will continue to mature and play a large role for the Spartans. Iancono and Iafelice both played huge defensive roles on the team last year, tallying 49 and 57 steals, respectively.

The Spartans shouldn’t have problems with depth; they have twelve players who all expect to see significant game time. Not only are juniors Chelsea Peck and Sarah Milligan returning with valuable experience, but also sophomores Mueller, Marissa Miles, and Caitlin Rudge. Three freshmen join Case Western Reserve this season: Lauren Elkin, Julie Mooney, and Kathryn Huber.

The Spartans travel to Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA this weekend to play in the Radisson Classic where they will face Muskingum University and Earlham College. The Spartans will back at home next Tuesday to play cross-town rival Baldwin-Wallace College.