2011-12 Wilkes women's basketball preview
WILKES-BARRE – The Wilkes University women's basketball team will look to rebound from a 6-19 overall mark a year ago with a new head coach and a solid core of returning players mixed with an exciting group of newcomers in 2011-12.
First year head coach Chris Heery makes his much anticipated debut leading the Lady Colonels into Freedom Conference play in 2011-12 after serving as the top assistant coach at NCAA Division III power Muhlenberg College for the past six seasons. During his six years at Muhlenberg, the Mules posted a 131-31 overall record, claiming four Centennial Conference crowns and five NCAA tournament appearances making two trips to the "Sweet Sixteen". Heery brings an enthusiastic energy to the Wilkes program with an up-tempo style of play.
"We have a great group of returning players to build this team around and the newcomers are grasping everything we are trying to teach them very quickly," said Heery. "Our captains, Amanda Pawlowski and Whitney Connolly have done an outstanding job day in and day out to practice hard and set positive examples for the squad," added Heery.
He will most likely look to Connelly, the lone senior on this year's squad, to take a large leadership role for Wilkes in the backcourt. Connolly started in all 25 contests last season posting 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 85 percent (91-107) from the charity stripe. She possesses the ability to break down defenders and create scoring opportunities for herself and her teammates. Backcourt mate Pawlowski also returns after averaging 4.0 points and 3.5 rebounds with a team-high 50 assists a year ago. The two look to form one of the finest backcourts in the conference rich with talented guard tandems throughout.
Also back is leading returning scorer and rebounder Megan Kazmerski who averaged 11.4 points and 7.4 rebounds from her off-guard position in 2010-11. A great athlete with superb speed and strength at the guard position, Kazmerski can score in a variety of ways including on drives as well as hitting the three-pointer. She canned 31 treys last season in 24 starts, second on the squad in that category.
Junior guard Angela Palmerio returns to add depth to the Wilkes backcourt after appearing in all 25 games last season averaging 4.2 points and 2.4 rebounds off the bench. Palmerio is a two-year letter winner with conference experience that coach Heery will rely on for needed depth in the backcourt.
Heery welcomes a strong class of rookies into the mix in 2011-12 with the opportunity for ample playing up and down the lineup. Freshman guards Kate Thomas, Elena Stambone, Kayla Cavanaugh, and Larissa Forese, and Besiana Sheshi all figure to see time at the point and off-guard positions. Allison Walsh, Megan Dragan, Chelsea Brown, and Ginny Edwards will vie for time at the forward and post positions for the Lady Colonels who look to push the tempo of play both on offense and defense this season.
With the program on the right track towards success, Wilkes looks poised to make a jump in the Freedom Conference standings in 2011-12. "We are hoping to get people excited about Wilkes women's basketball this season with our play on the court using hard work and perseverance," added Heery.
The schedule will not be easy to navigate through as the Lady Colonels have dates with Commonwealth foes Albright College and Lycoming College as well as non-league games with Marywood University and Susquehanna University in late November. Wilkes opens Freedom play with preseason third ranked Misericordia University before a game with the league favorite DeSales University before the Christmas holiday.
The Lady Colonels will open on the road Tuesday, November 15 at Penn State Hazleton at 6:00 p.m. before making their home debut Saturday, November 19 against Penn State Wilkes-Barre in the Marts Center for a 1:00 p.m. tip-off.