SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2003
Something Old and Something New
Dec. 28, 2003
The 2002-03 season began with promise in a season-opening 80-54 victory over Morris Brown, but two losses by less than 10 points and the biggest loss of all, the season-ending injury of junior forward Yolisha Jackson, hurt the resurgent Dolphins. The team fought through a trying period, losing its first three conference games before rebounding to down two A-Sun opponents in a row. A number of reserves stepped up to fill the void left by injury, learning quickly how to make an immediate impact on the club. The lessons learned during a difficult season will pay dividends as the team returns to full strength, and welcomes Jackson back to the fold.
Guards The backcourt may be the deepest in school history, with three seniors, two returning starters and a number of promising newcomers who could develop into one of the most talented outfits in the A-Sun. This group is made up of quality outside shooters and players who can dictate the tempo of a game by attacking off the dribble.
Senior Katie McDonald (Chandler, Ariz.) will move from the point to the wing this season, looking to continue her strong play from a year ago when she ranked third in the A-Sun with 4.1 assistsper game. She averaged 7.3 points, while starting all 27 games for the Dolphins. McDonald's versatility, swinging between point guard and shooting guard, will add to the JU's depth this season.
The team's main three-point threat is senior Lexie Richards (Mercer Island, Wash.), who holds the school record for career three-point field goals with 200 and hit 58-of-172 from beyond the arc last season. She has the opportunity to play with her sister, freshman Beth Richards (Mercer Island, Wash.), who comes to JU after a senior season at Mercer Island High School in which she averaged 20.5 points and 5.4 steals per game, while setting nine school records.
Newcomer Sheena Carpenter (Augusta, Ga.) arrives with impressive credentials and will split time at the point with junior transfer Rebecca Montz (Erath, La.). Carpenter and Montz have collegiate experience at the point, with Carpenter playing one season of Division I basketball, while Montz played two seasons at Chipola (Fla.) Community College. Carpenter was named Independent Conference Freshman of the Year last season, averaging 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game playing for Morris Brown, while Montz was a two-time Panhandle All-Conference player, averaging 16.0 points and 4.0 assists her final season.
Walk-on transfer Courtney Hunt (Bath, Maine) is another long- range bomber who will be eligible for the second semester.
Forwards The graduation of Kat Sungy leaves a void in the starting frontcourt, but the versatility of this group should be an asset this season. Jackson's return from a knee injury last season is key for the Dolphins. Jackson has averaged 10.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in two full seasons and expects to return to form this year.
Junior Lauren Woodman (Port Moody, Canada) gained valuable experience when she stepped into Jackson's role, starting the final 23 games of last season. Sophomore walk-on Andrea Adibe (Austin, Texas) saw action in six games as a freshman and should be called on for key minutes this year. She is one of the most athletic players in the post.
Newcomers Brooke Brafford (Mansfield, Ohio) and Meagan Wallen (Leesburg, Ind.) will round out the forwards. Brafford's ability to shoot the long-ball will help stretch opposing defenses, while Wallen is a physical player who excels in the inside game, and will be used to compete with the more physical forwards in the A-Sun.
Centers JU has a history of strong inside play and looks to continue that tradition this season with a group of four talented post players who each bring different skills to the floor. Junior Kara Donnell (Mattoon, Ill.) returns after ranking second in the A-Sun with 1.74 blocks per game last season. She ensures the Dolphins a solid center in the rotation, averaging 9.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in 2002-03.
A trio of freshmen hope to learn from Donnell and prove that they have what it takes to compete in the post. Redshirt freshman Talia Johnson (Sardis, Ga.) has benefited from a year of experience and adds athleticism and solid rebounding to the line-up. Freshman Chamara Warrick (Jacksonville, Fla.), who at 6-foot-4 is the tallest player in JU history, was a member of three-time state champion Ribault High in Jacksonville, where she averaged 7.1 points and 6.7 rebounds her senior season, while setting a school record for career blocks with 229 rejections. Warrick's winning attitude - her team posted a 108-1 record in three seasons - will pay dividends for the Dolphins on and off the court. Freshman Meghan Ostendorf (Marietta, Ga.) is a fundamentally sound center who could help off the bench.
The Schedule The Atlantic Sun returns to a 20-game schedule this season with the top eight teams advancing to the 2004 A-Sun Championship in Dothan, Ala. To prepare for a tough conference slate, Taketa has scheduled a host of challenging non-conference opponents. The season begins when Taketa goes for her 250th career win as the Dolphins host Puerto Rico-Mayaguez on Nov. 21. JU follows the regular-season opener with five non-conference games against opponents from the Big South, Ohio Valley Conference and A-10. JU plays a home-and-home series with all 10 A-Sun opponents, opening conference play with three home games. The Dolphins' first conference test will be Stetson on Dec. 17, followed by games against last season's top two South Division teams, Florida Atlantic and UCF. Then JU plays six of the next eight games on the road, including a televised game against Stetson on Feb. 4. Another TV game at Georgia State on Feb. 14 highlights the schedule, followed by three-straight home games. Finally, the Dolphins wrap up the season with tough road tests against the Lady Owls and the Golden Knights before the Atlantic Sun Championship begins on March 11, with the winner receiving the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2003-04 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL