Keystone 2011-12 women's basketball preview
La Plume, PA (11-10-11) – Some may classify this year's Keystone College women's basketball team as a rebuilding project; while others may term it a complete overhaul.
Whatever phrase is used, one thing is certain; this is a brand new era for women's basketball at the College.
The Giants have welcomed 12 freshmen into the mix, while also welcoming back two returners. The coaching staff is eagerly looking forward to the start of the season, stressing that the added depth and competition at each position will make for a very competitive team.
"With more athleticism than in previous years, this squad is a great foundation for the future of Keystone Women's' Basketball. As a program we are looking forward to building around these young & energetic players," boasted head coach Katie Tetzlaw. "With 12 new faces, two solid returners and a new system, we are really excited about this year's season."
Because of the youth movement with this year's team, other programs within the conference may be looking past the Giants. With the release of the 2011-12 Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) pre-season women's basketball poll, the Giants find themselves with a pre-season ranking of 10th in the CSAC.
Last year's 5-20 record (5-11 – conference) is a memory. As Coach Tetzlaw broke down the talent and positive attributes of this year's roster, she could not help but exude optimism.
The team returns perhaps their best overall player from last season in Tiana Cuttino. Cuttino, a native of Middletown, DE, averaged 6.4ppg and 7.6rpg, while recording 50 steals and 38 steals. "Tiana will play basically every position for us on the court. Every day she leads by example. She is our defensive specialist who will guard the opponent's best player. We rely on her for everything on both ends of the floor," boasted Coach Tetzlaw.
Briana Booker (Burtonsville, MD) is the other returner on the roster. A role player last season who saw action in each game, Briana is looked upon for contributions on and off the floor. As Tetzlaw explained, "Bri is a strong undersized post player with a lot of heart. She's always willing to do the dirty work for us. She will battle for rebounds and scrap on the defensive end. Bri is our vocal leader who is always trying to motivate our players."
One of the changes that the Giants hope to accomplishment this season is a more up tempo style of play and they believe that they are headed in the right direction with the addition of point guard Jazmyn Robinson (Hyattsville, MD). "She's a true point guard who is quick in transition, has the ability to get in the lane, and distributes the ball very well," commented Coach Tetzlaw.
In addition to Cuttino and Robinson, the starting five is expected to be rounded out by Alyssa Cuomo (Odessa, DE), Chantel Blake (Piscataway, NJ) and Jenna Downs (Beaumont, PA).
Coach Tetzlaw sees great promise and potential in these young, but talented student-athletes. "Alyssa has proven to be a reliable three-point threat; she's a scorer who is really starting to expand her game in all areas. She will definitely give us a lift on the offensive end. Chantel has been very impressive this preseason. She's carried over her enthusiasm and her high energy style of play that we saw when we first recruited her. She's very strong to the basket and is starting to develop a great jump shot off of the dribble. We are thrilled about what she can bring to this program. Jenna has been the most improved player for us thus far. She has been a huge spark for us in transition and has that never quit attitude. We are eager to see how she will develop her game over the course of the year."
Ashley Evans (Wooster, OH) and Alexis Jones (Leesburg, VA) are expected to see time at point guard and shooting guard respectively. "Ashley is a strong combo guard who will handle backup point guard duties, she's a fierce competitor and works hard every day, while Alexis is an athletic guard who runs very well in transition and has the most natural shot on the team," explained Tetzlaw.
Charlene Hook (Berwick, PA) and Raisha Piper (Hanover, Twp., PA) are both expected to contribute in numerous ways throughout the course of the year. Charlene's specialty is the long ball while Raisha bring a versatile mid-range game to the Keystone offense.
The Keystone coaching staff is excited about a talented trio in the swing position in Altheah Ramos (Centerville, MA), Domonique Swann (Waldorf, MD) and Jerica Rode (Lords Valley, PA). In breaking down their style of play and what they bring to the team, Coach Tetzlaw commented on each of the freshmen; "Altheah is very athletic on the defensive end and is very aggressive to the rim, while Domonique has great court vision and will work in multiple positions. Jerica is in post ACL rehab and is improving every day to bring her basketball IQ to the court. We are really excited how each is progressing in their own way."
Rounding out the roster is Chelsey Hropovich (Seward, PA), a player that will be looked at to provide much needed strength in the post. "Chelsey is one of those blue collar players that will earn her spot by competing day in and day out," said Tetzlaw.
The Giants will need to come and play each night this season, as the CSAC boasts a balanced blend of teams from top to bottom. Coach Tetzlaw looks at the match-ups against Baptist Bible College and Marywood University as good tests for her team. "These games tend to be a bit more special, since the three schools are located so close together. We are not just playing for pride locally, but with four games against these schools, the results go a long way in shaping the conference standings."
Looking at out of conference foes, Tetzlaw feels that a January 16 home game with King's College will serve as a good measuring stick. The contest comes around the mid-point of the season and should be able to provide a mid-term grade on how well her team is performing, as well as offer a sample of a quality non-conference opponent.
Keystone will open the season on Tuesday, November 15, when they travel to Rutgers-Camden. The Giants will be looking to avenge last year's season opening loss, dropping a two point decision at home to the Scarlet Raptors. The team's first home contest will be two nights later on the 17th when they welcome Wilkes University to campus for a 6pm tip.