NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth women's basketball team has improved each year since Amanda Van Voorhis took over as head coach four years ago. This year, they hope to continue to move up and reach the top echelon in the Little East Conference.
"This year, we're a lot deeper, and we have a lot of guard options," said Van Voorhis. "We have the ability to tweak lineups, and we're deeper and more competitive as a result. We've had a good pre-season, we're playing with a lot of energy, we're very goal-oriented, and we have high expectations."
The Corsairs return their top three scorers and four of their top five. "Our captain, (senior forward) Colleen Moriarty (Canton, MA/Canton HS), brings lot of experience to the front court, and her teammate, (junior forward) Erika Bornemann (Canton, MA/Canton HS), is stronger and continues o rebound and is developing her inside game," said Van Voorhis. "They will be up front."
Sophomore point guard Kelsey Garrity (Somerville, MA//Somerville HS), returns for her second year. "Kelsey Garrity, our point guard, has a year under her belt and is a lot more confident," said Van Voorhis.
Some positions remain to be settled. "The two guard or shooting guard position is sort of up for grabs right now," said Van Voorhis. "We have (junior) Erica Batchelder (Stoughton, MA/Stoughton HS/Salem State), who joined us last year, (sophomore) Melissa Daigle (Rockland, MA/Rockland HS), and a transfer from Framingham State, (junior) Cassie Liston (Stoughton, MA/Stoughton HS), who are all battling for playing time. (Freshman) Beth Castantini (Newburyport, MA/Newburyport HS) will be an off guard or small forward. other players in the mix are (sophomore) Erin Fahey (Salem, MA/St. Mary's-Lynn HS), who will see time at the forward position, and freshman Samantha Mangano (Winchester, Ma/Winchester HS). (Freshman) Stephanie Antoine (New Bedford, MA/Greater New Bedford Vo tech HS) and (sophomore) Keneisha Debnam (Dorchester, MA/Minuteman Regional HS/Bunker Hill CC) are new to the roster."
Van Voorhis said that the newcomers will add quality. "Overall, we have more scoring ability, we're deeper, and we're more athletic," said Van Voorhis. "We're bigger, and we're better equipped to challenge for the Little East title."
A challenging schedule awaits the Corsairs. "We have some tough games this semester," said Van Voorhis. "We play Bridgewater State, which is picked to win the MASCAC, we have Keene State at home, which is a big conference matchup, and we've also strengthened our schedule by adding Brandeis. We're excited to be hosting our tournament, and we hope to get off to a strong start this weekend."
Van Voorhis feels that her team has the versatility to be successful. "We're going to be an up-tempo team, but we'll definitely be more comfortable in the half court," said Van Voorhis. "We've got shooters all over the court. we might make eight to ten threes a game, and we'll able to keep players fresh because we'll have a deeper rotation."
Several factors will be important. "We've been talking about shot selection, and emphasizing that we've got to shoot over 40 per cent from the field and over 70 per cent from the free throw line," said Van Voorhis. "We need to take good shots, because the battles in the LEC come down to limiting mistakes, taking care of the ball, rebounding, and taking good shots. I think we're in a position to handle a tougher schedule. We've added a tougher game here and there to help prepare for the Little East games."
As always, the LEC will be competitive. "Southern Maine was picked first, they are always a challenge," said Van Voorhis. "Western Connecticut, RIC and some of the other perennial powers will be tough. There are only a few points separating the second, third and fourth picks, and that tells me that the conference is really up for grabs."