Nov. 12, 2009
NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA-When she was the head coach at Salve Regina, Head Coach Amanda Van Voorhis' women's basketball team made their biggest improvement between her first and second seasons. Van Voorhis hopes that her team can replicate that effort when she begins her second season in charge of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's women's basketball team when they begin their season by visiting Westfield State Sunday afternoon.
The Seahawks went 12-13 during the 2000-2001 season, and then were 24-5 the next year. The Corsairs are looking to move up after finishing eighth in the Little East Conference and posting a 3-23 overall mark last season.
"We're going to have a young team," said Van Voorhis about her squad, which has seven freshmen and a sophomore among the 12-player group. "We will be athletic, and I think we have enough ingredients that make us hopeful to turn things around. We believe we have talent, but our young players will have to play, starting with game one. They'll be playing before they're 100 per cent ready, but the potential is there. We are a team that will improve throughout the year, and we are committed to improving game by game and being better every day. We've been practicing hard, and we're anxious to get started. "
Three players return from last year's squad, and two should start. Senior forward Kaylin Nelson (New Bedford, MA/New Bedford HS/Salve Regina-11.1 points and 9.3 rebounds per game last year) and junior forward Tashauna Ashmeade (Hyannis, MA/Barnstable HS-12.7 points and 7.5 rebounds) should start. Senior guard Madison Malloy (Cranston, RI/Bay View Academy-5.6 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists) will begin the season as the Corsairs' top reserve and see plenty of action coming off the bench. Six-one freshman Colleen Moriarty (Canton, MA/Canton HS), junior guard Lynley DeAmato (Melrose, MA/Melrose HS) and freshman guard Beatrice Atkinson (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS) are also slated to start.
"Maddy, Kaylin and Tashauna are all returning, and we'll probably go with Kaylin and Tashauna, with Maddy coming off the bench as out backup point guard," said Van Voorhis. "Lynley will be our starting point guard, Colleen has a nice inside presence, and Beatrice is a strong guard, so, most likely, they will start."
Last year, the Corsairs finished the season with just six players, but this year, a larger roster will mean that depth will be an asset. "Our other six players are all viable candidates to get into the rotation," said Van Voorhis. "As coaches, we're looking for people to step up and play consistently."
The newcomers are promising. "(Freshman) Shannon Singletary (Brockton, MA/Brockton HS) and Beatrice played high school ball together at Brockton," said Van Voorhis. "Shannon is a defensive specialist, she's very quick, can provide a bit of offense, and is a good sparkplug off the bench who will also be good in a press. (Freshmen) Nicole (Marotta, Bridgewater, MA/Bridgewater-Raynham HS) and Sam (Marotta, Bridgewater, MA/Bridgewater-Raynham HS) Are excellent three-point shooters. (Freshman) Jess (Howlett, North Quincy, MA/North Quincy HS) can play both guard and forward, she will have to rebound and play inside a little bit. (Sophomore) Tessa (McMullen, Fairhaven, MA/Fairhaven HS) was the point guard on a good Fairhaven team a couple of years ago, (freshman) Felicishia (Holmes, Springfield, MA/Sci Tech HS) is a point guard who played for a good travel team, the Springfield Sparks and has a good handle and a good feel for the game."
The Corsairs will try to take advantage of their versatility. "We'd like to play an up=tempo style and mix up our defenses," said Van Voorhis. "We'd like to press and do things defensively that will generate some easy offense. With our big lineup, our shooting should be more consistent and our rebounding should be better. We also gave a lot of speed. It's an exciting time, and hopefully we've turned the corner."
The schedule will be challenging. "The MASCAC poll just came out, and the teams we play, Westfield State, Salem State, Bridgewater State and Worcester State are the top teams in the poll," said Van Voorhis. "Then we get into the Hampton Inn Classic, and we start off with Green Mountain and then play either Mount Ida or Connecticut College. It would be nice if we could repeat as champions."