Eastern Nazarene 2011-12 women's basketball preview
QUINCY, Mass. - The 2011-2012 Eastern Nazarene women's basketball team will feature many familiar faces on the court but an entirely new system and style of play. At the helm of the program is newly appointed head coach Sacha Santimano, who serves in the United States Air Force Reserves, and has coached at Allen Community College (Kan.), Asbury University (Ky.), University of Cumberlands (Ky.) and University of St. Mary's (Kan.) in her career.
"We have been focused on fundamental and discipline play," Santimano said. "Building a foundation is important. When you don't have the simple, basic elements down, you cannot grow strong. Our staff demands hard work every day because it is necessary for our team's growth and development. Changing the mentality on and off of the court with the players has been a goal for our staff from early on. "
The squad features seven returners, including shooting guard Samantha Leach, who took a year off in 2010-2011, but has come back to finish her senior season. Also returning for the Lions are the top four scorers from 2010-2011 in junior's Shardae Brown (13.2 ppg), Ace Carradine (8.5 ppg), Alexis Malloy (7.8 ppg) and sophomore Dianna Bonds (10.5 ppg).
"Ace will be looked to for leadership and distribution," Santimano said. "I expect the other key returners to build on their strengths as individuals, and work together."
When asked to list the keys to success in 2011-2012, Santimano was clear. The Lions will need to step up defensively and rebound the basketball.
"It all starts on the defensive end. We can count on defense every day because it is based off of hard work, communication and effort, which are all things that we can control. From there, we hope to spark our offense by the way we play defense."
The team features newcomers Kori Sorensen and transfer Melanie Green (Anne Arundel C.C.), who Santimano believes will aid in the Lions quest to turn the program around.
"Kori will help in our system because of the fundamentals that she already possesses. As a freshman, she provides leadership through her work ethic. Mel will give us another option for handling the ball. She also finds ways to score in an offense and is a solid on-the-ball defender."
As with any fledgling team, there is still work to be done, but ENC fans can expect to see something different on the court from this athletic and versatile team.
"When a completely new concept is brought in, the kids have a choice," Santimano said. "They can adapt, buy into it and be successful or they can remain stagnant. Judging by the work that our kids have put in so far, it appears that a choice has been made. Depending on how fast the shift occurs, I believe that we can be very talented. There is no doubt that this team has potential, but the adage remains true- it takes more than talent to win games."
The Lions are hopeful that the combination of discipline, fundamentals and talent will surprise people in 2011-2012 and manifest positive change in the program. The season will commence on November 16th on the road against UMass-Boston. Tip-off is slated for 5:00pm. Eastern Nazarene will return to Quincy for their first home game of the season on November 29th against Framingham State at 7:00pm.