WASHINGTON - The women's basketball team has been preparing for this season since the final game of last season ended (Feb. 16, 2013). Since then the coaches and players have discussed the both the negatives and positives of the year and how to improve going forward. With the newfound leadership of six veteran players returning for the 2013-14 season in addition to several new members the Bison are looking to make a statement.
Although she believes her team will definitely be tested this year, head coach Stephanie Stevens believes the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) playing field has evened out and the Bison will be competitive in conference and non-conference games alike. As the coaching staff has been preparing for the season for months, they have decided that the overarching theme for all aspects of the program is "one thing at a time."
"This year we are really going to focus on one game at a time, so that's going to be our approach to the season," said Stevens. "Anytime we practice it's going to be one practice at a time, anytime we have workouts with our strength trainers it's going to be one workout at a time. I want all of us to learn that patience and realize the opportunity that today is the day that we get things done because yesterday is gone and tomorrow we don't know what going to happen so we need to focus on the moment. I feel like this will help improve skills and mental toughness as well."
Coach Stevens is entering into her second season, the team went 7-18 last season, and brings with her an experienced staff she believes will help the team improve greatly and see success this season. Her first assistants include Mike Kent and Nikkia Smith. Kent has 15 plus years of coaching experience and is an accomplished player himself. Although this is his first year working with a women's team, his knowledge and insight will be a tremendous advantage for the program. Kent, a Gallaudet Athletics Hall of Famer, also serves as the team's Coordinator of Player Development. Smith is a first-year graduate assistant with the program. The former University of Hartford basketball player will bring Division I experience and level of competition to the program. Smith is in a unique position as Stevens refers to her as the "buffer" between the players and coaches and will play a vital role in the communication between staff and players. Jeremy Cormier is the team's sole student intern. Cormier has had the privilege of working with the program over the past several years and is great fit for the program.
The women's team also has the support of four student managers. Head manager Kelsy Ramy helps with all the logistics of the program including meal and travel prep. Katie Zendarski, Marshall Harris, Miriam Goldberg and are loyal to the team and willing to help wherever there is a need in practice, games and travel.
"Our staff and team managers are vital to the success of the program. I am very thankful to have their support this season," said Stevens.
Leadership on the court this year will start with senior point guard Stephanie Weiss (Wellington, Fla.) who was first in free-throw percentage and 3-point field goals made. She is joined by senior combo guard Britny Latham (Cleveland, Tenn.) who makes her debut after sitting out last season with a medical red shirt and junior Danielle Warren (San Joes, Calif.) returns. New recruits for the guard position include freshmen Lawjen Ashmore (Fairbanks, Alaska) who has already gained the reputation of being a committed athlete. She has a high level of accountability and goes above and beyond expectations. Stevens expects her to make a positive impact on the team throughout the season. Other newcomers include Lori Eldred (Elkhorn, Wis.) and Jazzmin Washington (Orlando, Fla.). Junior Leslye Kang (Wayne, N.J.). Kang returns to the women's basketball team after taking a year off.
Lindsay Stergio (Montville, Conn.) returns for her senior season with the Bison after leading the team in several major statistical categories including scoring (15.0 points per game) rebounds (9.0 per game) assists (2.6 per game) and steals (2.0 per game) during the 2012-13 season. The forward/center is accompanied by junior Elena Ciccarelli (Whitesboro, N.Y.) who was second in rebounding last year averaging 6.3 per game. The new faces upfront include freshmen Chandler Gloudeman (Waukesha, Wis.), Isabella Hasty (Fort Worth, Texas) and senior Lane Peters (Phoenix, Ariz.), who is also a standout volleyball player for Gallaudet.
"This year's roster is much more well-rounded and will allow us to effectively execute against a man or zone defense. We have much more versatility with players," said Stevens.
The season opens with a trip to Lexington, Va., where the Bison will compete in two non-conference games at the Washington and Lee tip-off tournament (Nov.16-17) followed by another non-conference away game to Hood College (Nov. 21). The team will begin its North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) schedule at home with a game against St. Elizabeth (Nov. 23) and Penn St.-Berks two day later (Nov. 25). The Bison then hit the road to face NEAC foe Penn St.-Abington (Dec. 4). They will return home to host Lehman, Valley Forge and Trinity at the annual GU Holiday Tournament (Dec. 6-7). The Bison will then compete against conference rival Wilson (Dec. 8) and Goucher (Dec. 14) at the Field House before breaking for the holidays.
The Bison kick-off January with a conference home game verse new NEAC member Bryn Athyn (Jan. 7) before making the trip to Randolph-Macon (Jan. 9) for a non-conference competition. They then play back-to-back home games against conference rival Keuka (Jan. 11) and Staten Island in the last non-conference game of the season (Jan. 12). The Bison play at Wilson (Jan. 14) before hosting Cazenovia (Jan. 18). They will wrap up the month of January with a trip to SUNYIT (Jan. 25) and home game verse Lancaster Bible (Jan. 28).
Gallaudet continues conference play in February with two road games at Wells (Feb. 1) and Penn St.-Berks (Feb. 4). SUNY Cobleskill will visit the Gallaudet Field House (Feb. 8) before the Bison travel to Lancaster Bible (Feb. 12). The Bison play their last home game against Penn St.-Abington (Feb. 15) and finish the regular season schedule with two away contests to St. Elizabeth (Feb. 18) and Morrisville State (Feb. 21). The first round of the NEAC tournament will take place on Feb. 25.
The Bison are set up for success with a great combination of veteran players and dedicated newcomers. With the passionate and experienced guidance of the coaching staff and the "one game at a time" approach the Gallaudet University women's basketball team anticipates a successful season.
"I definitely think we will surprise a lot people this year," said Stevens.