Shepherd women tip off Friday

November 16, 2000

Shepherd women tip off Friday

By BOB PARASILITI / Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -Shepherd College women's basketball coach Betsy Blose started getting ready for this season's media press conference on a cold day in February at Hedgesville High School.


"I was sitting there during the Fairmont game watching Jennifer (Chapman) scoring 30 points," Blose said. "I turned to (assistant coach Jodie Runner) and said 'What are we going to do next year?'"

Blose had six months to think about the answer. Chapman is gone, graduated and now an assistant coach on the Rams bench, and the sixth-year coach stood at the podium during the annual media day luncheon on Wednesday, ready to face the music.

So, what are you going to do this year to replace Chapman?

"We are going to move on," Blose said. "We lost Jennifer and she was probably the premier player that we have had in my six years here. It begins with recruiting ... I think we can contend for a championship this season."


Shepherd hit the streets looking for players and brought in four key freshmen and a substantial transfer in to minimize the loss of Chapman. Then Blose looked at her two seniors - Kassandra Kilby and Stephanie Schwandt - to give the leadership needed to get the Rams started on a strong dose of Shepherd College-style basketball.

"It all starts on the defensive end for us," Blose said. "The players know that. Sometimes we aren't the best of offensive teams, but our defense has won a few games for us. We don't have one player on this team, we have a lot of players. I was listening to something (Duke coach Mike Krzyzelski) said. He said, 'To win championships, you need depth.' We just keep throwing players at our opponents and try to wear them down."

Diversity will be one of the main weapons for the Rams in their quests to lessen the blow of losing Chapman while making at a run to better two consecutive 19-9 records while returning to contention for the West Virginia Intercolligeate Atheltic Conference title.

Defense will be the rallying call, but it will take more than one offensive player to fill Chapman's shoes.

"We're going to need a lot of players to step up and make contributions," Blose said.

First in line will be Kilby and Schwandt, starting Friday when the Rams open the season against Johnson C. Smith College in the opening round of the Wingate (N.C.) Tournament.

"We expect a lot out of our seniors," Blose said. "We are going to start Stephanie at the post on Friday. A lot of people ask me why I play her ... she's our glue and gives us backbone. She's the screens that coaches see. She provides the intangibles.

"Kilby is going to have a great year for us. She's going to start at the (wing guard) and she's the best rebounding guard in the conference. She has to pick up some of the scoring we lost from Chapman."

Maybe the biggest jobs on the court will be filled by junior Barb Oller and freshman Cassie Murray, who led Allegany to the Maryland Class 1A state title last season.

"Barb will be our starting point guard and the torch has been passed to her," Blose said. "She has paid her dues and now it's time for her to lead the team. And Murray is going to start for us at shooting guard (Chapman's position). She is one of the best freshmen I've ever coached. But starting is going to be a big step for her because we need her to pick up Chapman's scoring."

Makia Staves will start at power forward, a battler who will be counted on to anchor the rebounding.

Shepherd will have six strong players in the post positions with Gail Seimer and Jennifer Westervelt returning while Brianna Hamilton will be converted into an inside player. Shepherd also adds Valerie Chaney to the roster, a 6-foot-3 transfer from Georgia Tech who sat out last season.

At guard, Shepherd has Melissa Windle returning from a knee injury and Leslie Caple along with freshmen Ashley van Norden, of Williamsport, Gaynell Reese and Ashana Cowans.

Shepherd enters the season with scoring questions but are still considered one of the cream of the WVC crop, checking it in as No. 4 in the preseason poll.

But Blose expects more than that out of the Rams.

"We're asking this team to make sacrifices," Blose said. "There isn't anyone who will be playing 40 minutes or even 30 minutes. By mid-February, we want to be competing for the No. 1 or the No. 2 seed in the WVC tournament to get in a bracket we can go out and win the championship. We are excited about what we have accomplished, but we still have some unfinished business to attend to."

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