Saturday, November 16, 2013

Preview: Saint Peter's Women Begin Turn-Around

Here's another in the series previewing conference teams for the 2013-14 season.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 2-16 in the MAAC, 2-28 overall.

KEY LOSSES: Forward Kristal Edwards (13.2 points, 5.0 rebounds), forward Jesika Holmes (6.9, 7.1).

LIKELY STARTERS: 6-1 senior forward Kaydine Bent (8.1, 7.1), 6-2 sophomore center Neechelle Ingram (0.1, 0.8), 5-3 senior guard Aziza May (11.5, 3.3, 3.7 assists), 5-4 freshman guard Marcia Senatus, 5-5 junior guard Antonia Smith (5.4, 2.1).

KEY NEWCOMERS: Senatus, 6-2 freshman forward Kaycee DeVoogd.

NOTABLE: It's a new beginning for the Peacocks, starting with coach Pat Coyle, a MAAC veteran who coached previously at former league member Loyola and twice took that program to the NCAA tournament. After that she coached several seasons in the WNBA (head coach of the New York Liberty) and, most recently, had been the associate head coach at the University of Pittsburgh ... Coyle has much work to do to restore the once-strong program, but is off to a good start. Her first recruiting class includes Senatus, a highly touted guard, and 6-2 forward Kaycee DeVoogd ... Coyle has also brought in transfers Imani Martinez, a 6-2 forward who was a lightly used player as a freshman at East Tennessee State (four games) last season, and dynamic guard Rebecca Sparks from St. Francis. Last season Sparks had a 27-point game and averaged 13.2 points in the last five games she played as a freshman ... Sparks and Martinez both are sitting out as transfers this season, but the real turnaround for the program is likely to start next season when both become eligible and a host of other young players return with a year's experience ... This season's only senior contributors are 6-1 Kaydine Bent, the team's top rebounder a year ago, and Aziza May, the top returning scorer. Sparks will be a more-than-adequate replacement for May a year from now, while Martinez will help soften the loss of Bent ... The Peacocks opened with a 64-37 loss to Hampton, a tough opener against an opponent that went 28-6 last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament. The team was led, in that game by nine points from Senatus ... 6-1 sophomore center Hala Mostafa came off the bench to score eight points. Sh sat out last season with an injury after averaging 2.0 points and 2.1 rebounds as a freshman ... the team's roster also includes sophomore guard Bridget Whitfield, who was a perfect 8-for-8 on three-pointers in a late-season game against Siena last season, but did little else (53 other points the entire season) before or after.

STRENGTHS: Bent is a strong inside player, May is an exciting point guard who can also shoot from long range. Whitfield is an effective long-range sniper. Senatus was highly regarded by Coyle, and has already started living up to her early billing. The team should legitimately be able to go eight or nine deep most nights.

WEAKNESSES: Coyle's team will struggle on the boards again this year (outrebounded, 44-28, by Hampton) and will until a year from now when new players come in and current ones get a little stronger. There's also considerable inexperience. Only Bent and May have played extensive minutes in the past.

REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS: League coaches, in their preseason poll, predict the Peacocks to finish last in the 11-team league, and that's probably the final result ... But, better days are ahead. Coyle's resume alone will attract better recruits, and she couples that with being an outstanding coach Her team will show improvement as the year goes on. And, things will really start getting better next year when the two transfers become eligible, when the young players improve and with other quality players are recruited.

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