Nov. 15, 2010
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-After posting a seven-game improvement last season, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's women's basketball team hopes to continue to move up in the Little East Conference this year. The Corsairs, who were 10-16 last season after going 3-23 two years ago, begin their 2010-11 campaign when they visit Endicott Tuesday evening.
The Corsairs went 5-9 in conference play last season, and won five of their final 10 regular season games before being ousted by perennial power Southern Maine in the first round of the LEC Tournament. UMass Dartmouth returns three of their top five scorers and brought in several recruits who should help.
"I think we have a legitimate post presence this year, which will give us more options to score inside," said UMass Dartmouth Head Coach Amanda Van Voorhis. "Our height and athleticism at the post position will serve us well, and the pace at which we played last year will be doubled in intensity. We also have quicker, more athletic guards. Overall, we will strive for deflections, and we always strive to earn the right to run the floor. That starts with getting our hands on the ball defensively, or by finishing possessions with a rebound. I'm looking for our up-tempo style to wear down our opponents."
Junior Stephanie Houtman (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS/Bridgewater State) will move to the point guard position. Houtman, who led UMass Dartmouth in scoring last year with 11.5 points per game, will be joined by senior Tashauna Ashmeade (Hyannis, MA/Barnstable HS), who averaged 10.4 points per game.
"We'll be led in the backcourt by Steph Houtman at the point guard position, and adding her experience will be Tashauna Ashmeade," said Van Voorhis. "Our other options include (Junior) Jess Underwood (Dorchester, MA/Lynn HS/Roxbury CC), (sophomore) Shannon Singletary (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS), and (freshmen) Keneisha Debnam (Dorchester, MA/Minuteman Regional HS) and Megan Sheehan (Carver, MA/Carver HS).
Sophomore forward Colleen Moriarty (Canton, MA/Canton HS), who averaged 6.5 points per game, also returns. "In the front court, Colleen Moriarty returns, and she will be joined by her former high school teammate (freshman) Erika Bornemann (Canton, MA/Canton HS)," said Van Voorhis. "We also have an experienced junior college transfer in the post in (junior) Jackie Washington (Dorchester, MA/Brookline HS/Roxbury CC). (Freshman) Tahirah Gibson (Norwood, MA/Norwood HS) just joined us from the volleyball team, and (freshman) Mykaliah Best (Cambridge, MA/Cambridge Rindge & Latin HS) is another inside presence. We have five players who are six feet tall or taller."
The improved depth should translate into more success. "Our depth will give us more freedom to tweak lineups, have fresh legs and not overextend some of our guards like we've had to do in the past," said Van Voorhis. "We should be able to do a better job of managing foul trouble and special situations."
Several Corsairs could make their presence felt. "Tashauna has made some big improvements over the summer, gaining speed and agility," said Van Voorhis. "She has worked very hard to improve her game. Colleen has improved her game, as has Stephanie. Stephanie has improved her ball handling and her decision making. Tashauna, Stephanie and Colleen will be our captains this year. Erika and Keneisha will help us. Erika could be one of the top rookies in the league." The schedule will not be easy. "We open up on the road with Endicott, and we're challenge by playing three road games to start the season. Our schedule is a strong one; our non-conference opponents include Bridgewater, Worcester, Westfield and Salem, all of whom have given us trouble in the past. A sign of our success in the second semester will be how well we perform in our non-conference games this semester."
Van Voorhis, who enters her third season at UMass Dartmouth, will be joined by new assistant coach Vicki Andruszkiewicz. Former assistant coach Rob Johnson left to become the head coach at Johnson & Wales.