Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

WBasketball Preview: Tips to greatness

Published: November 17, 2006
Section: Sports

With a mighty heave from Jaime Capra 08 and an unfortunate clank to show for it, Brandeiss season came to end there in that second round game against Bowdoin. It was an end to an unprecedented season in Brandeis sports an NCAA playoff birth, the first of its kind. Now that the season is about to commence, the Judges are raring and eager for another go round and they wont be satisfied with the UAAs. Nor does anyone else assume so with the Judges being ranked 15 in the nation by and 16 in a Womens Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

We dont have a set five, Coach Carol Simon said, It shows that we have a lot of talentwe have six freshman and everyone can contribute.

Among the key returns for the Judges are Jaime Capra and Caitlin Malcolm 07. Capra, winner of UAA Rookie of the Year award back in 2008, followed up with a solid sophomore season, averaging 11.9 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. These were slight declines from her rookie totals but the year was an injury plagued one for her, at one point missing several games and at one point, was left with her arm in a sling. Shell be counted on to help relieve Malcolms offensive burden by nailing the outside shots. Last season she made 20 three point shots out of 54 attempts, making her 37% from beyond the arc. Hopefully, back in full health, she can boost those numbers a bit.

Team co-captain Caitlin Malcolm though is the key to the offense. Last season was just an explosion for her as she improved in every category. Malcolm dominated the paint on both ends, averaging 16.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and tied the UAA in double-doubles, recording eight on the season. Her point and rebound totals were second and fifth in the UAA last year. Malcolm was rewarded for her season by being named a finalist for Division III Player of the Year Honors. As such, teams are likely to double and triple team her, putting the onus on players like Capra, Alison Chase 07 and whoever fills in at point to generate the outside pressure needed.

Chase will be interesting to watch, especially after her phenomenal performance against Bowdoin last season, earning 14 points and tied the game. This is was Coach Simon said about her after that final game, We call Ali [Chase] our stealth bomber. Shes quiet, and shes probably not on anybodys scouting report. She just hovers and then bam!

Last season was also a season of personal milestones as well. Coach Simon earned her 250th career win in a January victory over Carnegie-Mellon, Amanda DeMartino 06 broke the assists record previously held by Pam Vaughn 90 and graduated with 423 total assists to her name.

Brandeis saw some key departures this year, saying good bye to team captains Amanda DeMartino 06 and Christine Clancy 06 and filling both positions will be vital to team success. DeMartino, the Brandeis career record holder in assists, was smart, consistent and an undisputed leader on the court. Clancy on other hand, helped form a fearsome attack with Malcolm in the paint and her 19 point effort against Salem State back in the playoffs helped Brandeis advance to their fateful match against Bowdoin. Filling both positions ably will be vital to determining whether the team makes it back to the NCAAs or end up settling for the ECAC.

There are many players who will attempt to fill the gap left by DeMartino, the most experienced option being Kiersten Holgash 08. Although entering her third year, last season the equivalent of a rookie season after having sat out 2008 with a torn ACL. Appearing in every game, with seven starts to her credit, Holgash averaged 2.4 points and 1.5 assists in 15.5 minutes of playing time per game.

According to Coach Simon, what Holgash offers is experience that the freshman obviously dont have, and reportedly has gotten stronger and, is more of a vocal leader out there.

Despite this, Coach Simon stated that, contrary to what the Justice reported, the starting line-up is far from set and that one can expect the rookies to offer some serious contributions. Competing with Holgash for the point are rookies Jessica Chapin 10 and Lauren Rashford 10. Simon described Chapin as versatile who could handle the ball well while Rashford was described as quick, athletic, and hard-nosed. Carmela Breslin 10 and walk-on Almog Cohen 10 round out the rookies at guard. Simon stated that Breslin was a good shooter and a smart player, qualities that will also throw her into the mix.

You have to be smart, you have to make good decisions, Coach Simon explained when asked what was key for the point position.

The forward position is less defined in terms of a starter. Simon stated that the starter will really be by committee depending on the opponents. Leading the way for the spot were last years rookies: Lauren Orlando 09, Amanda Wells 09 and Cassidy Dadaos 09. Of the three, Orlando took some major strides leading the team with 15 points against Carnegie-Mellon back on February 12 and her interior defense was crucial against Salem State when Malcolm experienced foul trouble. Simon plans to utilize Orlando for the more physical match-ups and Wells and Dadaos against largely athletic foes.

Pushing the forwards will be rookies Kasey Gieschen 10 and Chelsey Dionne 10. Dionne unfortunately is injured as of this printing but Simon described Gieschen as a physical presence. Other rookies making up the reserves is guard.

With the influx of freshman talent and the maturation of last years rookies, the bench is stronger than it was last year when only Holgash and guard Courtney Tremblay 08 were the only experienced players off the bench. The improvement of depth will be important to the Judges sustaining their fortunes as every team in the UAA has made improvements themselves. As Coach Simon put it, the UAA consists of Division I talent with a Division III philosophy.

Overall, the team has lost two starters in DeMartino and Clancy but with the improvement of last years rookies and Malcolm returning to man the middle, a fourth straight 20 win seasons is not out of the question. Nor does anyone else assume otherwise with the Judges being ranked #15 in the nation by and #16 in a Womens Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). At this point, its NCAAs or bust.