Shepherd women expect favorable results

November 15, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Don't look now, but Shepherd College is about to turn women's basketball into a business venture.

The Rams aren't about to get a Dow Jones listing or anything like that, but they are about to test the marketability of the product coach Jodie Runner wants to put out on the floor.

It's called supply and demand.

In her second year as Shepherd's head coach, Runner supplied the Rams with her philosophy of playing basketball. Now this season, with virtually the same team, she plans to demand results.

"They know what they should be doing," Runner said Thursday during Shepherd's annual winter sports media day. "We were patient last year, but now we can be more demanding and ask more of them."


When Runner stepped in to the head coaching post, she scrapped Shepherd's structured approach and implemented a more free-styled motion offense with a pressing defense.

The Rams finished 13-16 last season, including 9-9 in the West Virginia Conference, while trying to find comfort in the change of styles. This season, with 10 returning players, including five seniors, familiarity should be there and expectations will change.

"We were patient as a coaching staff last year, but this year we will be patient and more demanding," Runner said. "Last year, there was a lesson in every game. We have high expectations (because of the returnees)."

The Rams have all the components, starting with the return of leading scorer Cassie Murray, and are two deep at every position. Three players put in extra work during the off-season to complicate Runner's starting lineup selection process.

Still in it all, a new addition made the coach sit up and take notice.

"Anna Lashway is a senior transfer from American International who only has one year to play here. She just transferred because she wanted to see a different part of the country. She is going to be a great asset. She can play (power forward) and step out and shoot the 3."

Lashway will be thrown in with Shepherd's wealth of experience.

Murray will work the third guard position along with Gaynell Reese, who has been one of Runner's pleasant surprises this preseason.

"Cassie is our senior captain and one of the best leaders both on and off the court," Runner said. "She has one of the best all-around games. (Reese) came back with more determination and confidence which is great because she is the best athlete we have."

Another major cog in the Rams offense is Ashana Cowans, who active style gives opponents trouble. She will be complimented by Carrie Kunkel out of the shooting guard slot.

"Cowans scored a lot of points for us," Runner said. "Kunkel had one of the best off seasons. She got more aggressive and is taking the ball to the hoop more."

The point guard position will be shared by Lindsay Stewart and Ashley van Norden, a Williamsport graduate, who are pushing each other for the starting nod.

Senior Danielle Murray will team with Lashway at the power forward slot.

At center, Runner will use the tandem of LaToya Fisher and Casey Landrum.

"We had a scrimmage the other day and LaToya took over the game," Runner said. "She is a shot-blocking specialist. Landrum used the off-season to get much quicker and she can step out and shoot the 3, too."

The roster is rounded out by a pair of newcomers, guard Carly Silver and walk-on Kristin Green.

The Rams will see just how far they have moved to pulling the system together tonight when they host Indiana University of Pennsylvania in their home and season opener.

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