Hartwick 2011-12 women's basketball preview
ONEONTA, NY – Last season's version of
the Hartwick College women's basketball team ended the year 10-14
overall, 7-9 in the Empire 8, and in fifth place in the conference
standings. Despite the 10-win season, the Hawks fell short in
several close games, including three one-point conference losses
and an overtime setback to St. John Fisher in which 'Wick held a
15-point lead with three and a half minutes to go in
Fourth-year head coach Missy West returns a youthful group this season with only three upperclassmen. She values last season's tough defeats and only believes it has made her squad better.
"I'm glad our team went through those experiences last year," said West. "We're a much more seasoned group because of it and our team now knows what it takes to get the job done."
This season, the Hawks will look to become just the third Hartwick women's basketball team to qualify for the Empire 8 playoffs, and first in seven years. The 2003-04 and 2004-05 Hartwick teams each earned berths in the conference's postseason tournament.
"There's no question that one of our goals this season is to be in the conference final four," added West. "This team is hungry and working extremely hard to meet that goal. I love our work rate in practice right now, but we still have a lot of work left to do."
West, who lost just one player to graduation from last season, returns the core of the team and welcomes a few talented newcomers capable of big contributions right away.
Returning at guard for the Hawks are sophomores Kate
Purcell (Buffalo, NY/Mt. Mercy Academy) and Maria
Foglia (Rensselaer, NY/Catholic Central HS), who were the
Hawks' two leading scorers last season. Purcell was selected to the
Empire 8 Conference Second Team after pacing the Hawks in scoring
(13.5 ppg), rebounds (6.6 rpg), three-point field goals (40), and
three-point field-goal percentage (.380), and she ranked in the
top-10 in seven categories in the Empire 8. Foglia received
conference honorable mention in 2010-11 and averaged 19.8 points
and six rebounds over the Hawks' last five games and was the E8
Rookie of the Week on February 21.
"We relied a lot on Kate and Maria and the rest of our guards for scoring last season," said West. "This year we are much more balanced. We'll be able to get more points down low which will take pressure off the guards."
Junior Marie Davison (Saratoga Springs, NY/Saratoga Springs HS), and sophomores Kait Veit (Easthampton, MA/Holyoke Catholic HS) and Lee Arduini (Albany, NY/Acad. Of the Holy Names) each return in the backcourt for Hartwick. Davison played in 21 games with three starts for Hartwick last season and registered career-highs of nine points and three treys against MCLA. Veit was one of the Hawks' top three-point threats with 36 baskets from beyond the arc in 2010-11. She made three triples or more six times, including a Hartwick College-record eight three-pointers in a win over Salem College. Arduini saw action in 23 games last season and reached double figures in points on three occasions.
"Marie will see time at the point this year," added West. Kate is a shooter but she's developed her drive in the off-season, and Lee is a hard-nosed player that will give us quality minutes."
In the paint, the Hawks return four veteran players. Six-foot, three-inch center Samantha Fox (Hartwick, NY / Cooperstown HS) and forward Brittany Ladner (Farmingdale, ME/Hall-Dale HS) are the lone seniors on the team. Fox started 13 games last season averaging 5.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and she blocked a team-best 25 shots. Ladner has averaged over 11 minutes per game over the last two seasons.
"We're looking for both Sam and Brittany to give us sparks off the bench," said West. "We need Sam to alter and block shots, box out, and rebound and are looking for continued leadership out of Brittany this year."
Sophomores Katrina Caulfield (Palmer, MA/Palmer HS) and Tracey Koch (Glenmont, NY/Bethlehem Central HS) also return at forward for the Hawks. Caulfield started 22 of 24 games last season and led Hartwick in field-goal percentage (.479) and was the team's second-leading rebounder (6.2 rpg). Koch played in all 24 games making seven starting appearances and averaged 4.4 points and three rebounds.
"Katrina and Tracey will be big for us down low," West said. "Katrina is a physical player in the paint and Tracey can run the floor, improved her shot, and can drive to the basket."
Five newcomers join the Hawks in 2011-12, including guard Josefine Vincents (Vallensbak, Denmark/Kent School), six-foot forwards Carlee Hirt (Beacon, NY/John Jay-East Fishkill HS), Kelsey Fenn (Lexington, MA/Lexington HS), forward Rachel Hunt (Penfield, NY/Webster Schroeder HS), and guard Kimmie Benson (Waterbury, CT/Wolcott HS).
"Jo will run the point for us this year," stated West. "She has a great first step and is very quick. She can drive to the hoop and shoot the basketball as well. Carlee is a solid post player who's very physical, confident with her shot, and can run the floor."
"Kelsey can get up and down the floor and can finish," added West. "Rachel is a solid player and a good passer, and Kimmie will push the guards and compete for minutes this season."
Hartwick opens the campaign with six straight road games before its home opener on December 5 against St. Lawrence. The Hawks begin their conference slate on January 6 at Elmira.
"We're playing a strong non-conference schedule with Union, St. Lawrence and Oneonta State this semester," said West. "The Empire 8 schedule is always difficult but I think the tough games we played last year and the experience we gained will be very beneficial."
The 2011-12 Hawks begin the season on Tuesday at Drew University. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. in Madison, NJ.