2009-10 Women's Basketball Season Preview
BROOKLYN, NY - The St. Joseph's College women's basketball team looks to return to the successes of its storied past after three straight sub-.500 seasons. Although last year's season began with a promising 6-4 mark, injuries and eligibility issues stymied the team's progress and contributed to an unprecedented nine-game slide through the month of January. Once healthy, SJC regained its form, winning five of their final seven games while advancing to the HVWAC championship game before falling to the heavily favored College of St. Elizabeth. With the addition of five newcomers to this year's team, the Lady Bears hope to build on last year's strong finish and capture their 4th Hudson Valley Women's Athletic Conference Championship and possibly contend for a 7th appearance at the USCAA National Tournament. With a roster featuring an astounding nine underclassmen, many might consider this to be a potential rebuilding year, however Head Coach Frank P. Carbone, now entering his 13th season at the helm and approaching the 200 win plateau, fully expects the newcomers to make immediate contributions and keep SJC in contention from the opening tip.
This year's youth-laden team features just one senior, Julia Serewko (Woodside, NY/Mary Louis), who is looking to improve on her sub-par (5.2 ppg, 6.8 rpg) performance from the '08-'09 campaign. "I am totally committed to bringing the LB's another conference championship and national tournament appearance before I graduate," added an enthusiastic Serewko. "I'm really excited about this year's team and I expect us to turn things around in a big way!" Carbone expects Serewko to have a major impact this season after struggling last season. "After a summer featuring a renewed focus on conditioning, Julia has really transformed herself and is poised to have a great season," added Carbone. Being the only true veteran on the team, he is expecting Serewko provide productive minutes and much needed leadership to the entire squad.
In many ways, Carbone again anticipates big things from Junior forward Allison Kavanagh (Woodhaven, NY/Mary Louis), who battled through an injury riddled campaign, but still managed to post solid numbers (9.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg). If healthy, this could be a breakout year for her. Fellow juniors Tara Gleason (Woodside, NY/Stella Maris) and Elizabeth Shea (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Kearney) will be counted on to provide much needed spark and energy, adding to the Lady Bears depth while playing a variety of roles for the Lady Bears throughout the season.
The most prolific performances from '08-'09 were turned in by sophomore Ashley McQuillan (Brooklyn, NY/St. Francis Prep), who captured the Association of Division III Independent's Rookie of the Year Award by averaging 16.0 ppg and leading the Lady Bears in both assists and steals during her first campaign. McQuillan at one stage during her stellar rookie season placed as high as 6th on the NCAA Division III national scoring leaderboard, featuring three games with 30+ points per game. Joanna Marciniec (Glendale, NY/Baruch), Kristin Binckes (Brooklyn, NY/St. Savior) and Caitlyn Kakavas (Bayside, NY/St. Agnes) headline a solid and steadily improving sophomore class, which looks to continue to gain experience and make a major impact this season at both the guard and forward positions.
The five newcomers to the LB's represent a wide range of talent and promise, featuring two "long distance" additions to complement the roster. Teresa Mangan (Cleveland, OH/St. Joseph's) brings a touch of the Midwest with her to Brooklyn, along with the talent, work ethic and passion for the game that have earned her a starting spot as a freshman and could make her a future star for the Lady Bears. "Teresa is in constant motion and is always looking to improve her game," added Carbone. "Her work ethic has been inspiring to us all and she has proven to be the consummate team player throughout the early portion of the season." Robin Darville brings a bit of the Sunshine state with her to Clinton Avenue, and truly stands out among the LB's at 6'2".
Darville provides the LB's with their first true center in many seasons, dating back to the days when Chantelle McCurty '04 was a shot-blocking force in the middle. Shifting back to the metropolitan area, Mangan and Darville are joined by Joanne Crimeni (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Ford), Janine Doran (South Ozone Park, NY/Archbishop Molloy) and Stephanie Quick (Howard Beach, NY/Stella Maris), who are all expected to make immediate contributions to the SJC attack, giving Carbone a truly deep squad with the potential to go 13 deep.
Finally, the coaching staff features a new face as well, but one who is certainly no stranger to Coach Carbone and the Lady Bears. Former standout and 1,000 point scorer Annamarie Ciorciari '08 makes her return to LB's, this time on the sideline, teaming up with long-time assistant Walter Sanchez to complete the coaching braintrust. "We are quite confident that Annamarie will bring a much needed perspective and level of experience to the staff, especially with a very young roster in need of guidance," added Carbone. "Anna's sensational career, championship experience and work ethic as a player will resonate with the new LB's and will hopefully guide them through what will be a very challenging and successful season."
This year's schedule continues to provide a number of challenges and plenty of travel; both staples of Coach Carbone's philosophy over the past dozen years. As the program has steadily grown, Carbone feels that it is extremely important to play a more demanding and diverse schedule - particularly as SJC moves through the NCAA membership process. While it would be difficult to repeat the run of six consecutive appearances at the USCAA National Tournament that was enjoyed several years back, Carbone firmly believes that the building blocks are in place to get back to that level very quickly.
Among the highlights on the schedule include a return trip for the Lady Bears to the Golden State for the Whittier (CA) Poets Invitational Tournament on January 2nd and 3rd. Two early season tournaments, at Wilson College (PA) and the College of St. Elizabeth (NJ) will provide some early challenges, as well as a trip north to Southern Vermont College (Bennington, VT) in December. Looming out in the distance is their journey down south to face their traditional USCAA nemesis, the Apprentice School (Newport News, VA), which will provide a true indicator if the Lady Bears are ready to contend for a national tournament bid. All in all, the Lady Bears will travel to six different states during the course of their '09-'10 campaign.
So the question remains, can this young, new-look Lady Bears team snap the down cycle of the past three years and once again sit atop the Hudson Valley and contend for the USCAA National Championship? Only time will tell, but the Lady Bears are determined to give it their best shot, setting the table for a very exciting season.