Thursday, November 7, 2013

Preview: Monmouth Women To Rely on Vets, Youth

Here's another in the series previewing MAAC teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 15-15 overall, 12-6 in the Northeast Conference.

KEY LOSSES: Guard Alysha Womack (14.2 points, 2.7 rebounds per game), guard Carly Thibeault (8.7, 3.5), forward Abby Martin (7.2, 3.5), guard Gabby Singer (5.1, 4.0), forward Betsy Gadziala (4.1, 5.0).

LIKELY STARTERS: 6-0 senior forward/guard Chevannah Paalvast (11.0, 4.9), 6-4 junior center Sara English (4.8, 4.4), 6-0 senior forward Shira Shecht (3.0, 1.8), 5-7 sophomore guard Kasey Chambers (1.7, 1.2), 6-0 redshirt freshman guard India Dotson.

KEY NEWCOMERS: Dotson, 6-4 freshman Sophie Beaudry, 6-4 freshman Christina Mitchell, 5-5 freshman guard Helena Kurt, 5-10 freshman Mia Hopkins.

NOTABLE: First year in the MAAC and the Hawks come in after losing four of their top five scorers from a year ago ... the key returnee is Paalvast, a multi-talented wing, originally from New Zealand, who was picked as a third-team preseason all-MAAC player ... Monmouth played small last year, but that could change as it will have the tallest roster in the league with three 6-4 players ... The best "big" is junior Sara English, who averaged 4.8 points and 4.4 rebounds last season in a limited role. She also averaged 1.4 blocked shots per game, while playing an average of just 14 minutes per contest. She came to Monmouth after a year at UMass, and flashed her potential with a 13-point/12-rebound/4-block effort in the Hawks' final game last season, a 59-57 loss to Mount St. Mary's in the quarterfinal round of the NEC's post-season tournament ... Shecht also appears set to take on a bigger role. She averaged 3.4 points as a sophomore, but injuries set her back last season ... Chambers was the team's back up at the point last season, so she appears the likely starter at the position this year, but will have to hold off incoming freshman Helena Kurt, a native of Sweden who has played on that country's 20U national team ... The team's fifth starting position could come down to redshirt freshman India Dotson or true frosh Mia Hopkins. Dotson averaged 9.0 points, 6.5 rebounds as a junior at Frederick (Md.) H.S. and, then, came to Monmouth a year early. She redshirted last year, which allowed her to participate in practices, and is an athletic wing player. Hopkins, a tall (5-10) guard had a huge high school career, averaging 20.3 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. She had a career best 39 points in a game ... The team plays in the 4,100-seat Multipurpose Activities Center, which will be one of the conference's better on-campus facilities ... The Hawks' roster includes 5-8 junior Sarah Olson, a transfer from NJIT who has to sit out this season. When she can play next year she'll be one of the league's top long-distance shooters. She had six three-pointers three different times at NJIT last season.

STRENGTHS: Some veteran presence, mostly with Paalvast and Shecht, both seniors. Paalvast is a multi-talented performer who will be a handful for MAAC teams to contend with this season. English seems ready to have a big season on the front court for the Hawks. The team's size should cause some match-up problems, and the incoming players all seem to have plenty of talent.

WEAKNESSES: Way too many graduation losses (four starters and a key reserve) from a year ago to seriously contend. The guard spot will be handled by last year's reserves and/or freshmen. All that youth never translates well, initially, at the mid-major level

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS: Picked to finish last in the preseason coaches poll, anything higher would be positive movement. But, it's not out of the realm of possibility. If English has a big year and some of the newcomers can make positive contributions, Monmouth could move up a couple of spots above the preseason prediction.

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