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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

Women's Basketball Pumped to Play Hoops

Author: Emily Berlanstein Staff Writer

This weekend the Middlebury women's basketball team inaugurates the 2001-2002 season against non-conference foe Johnson & Wales in a tip-off classic. The Panthers rank among New England's best, and the program boasts a 76 percent winning record over the past 11 years. Having lost only two seniors, the Panthers are in top form and hope to dominate the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) as well as Division III rivals.

While Division III teams across the country have already been practicing for a month, NESCAC rules prohibited Middlebury from scheduling off. However, Captain Megan McCosker '02 is confident in the Panthers' talent. "I think we look really good this season. We're working on being supportive of each other and working together to achieve success," she said.

The Panthers return last season's leading scorer, Kristin Hanley '03 as well as starters Megan McCosker '02 and Wesley Hyatt '03. Hanley will certainly pose a threat to opponents on the offensive end. According to first-year guard Karen Lee, "Kristin has the ability to post up and rebound like a forward but the agility to play as a guard." McCosker, a guard, was a named NESCAC's Defensive Player of the Year for the 2000-2001 season. Also returning for the Panthers are Katie Shuttie '03, Joanna Logue '04, Alexis Batten '04, Kate Shillo '04 and Captain Lauren Amen '02. Shuttie should lead the team from the point guard position, and Amen should provide support as a shooting guard. Batten and Shillo, the tallest members of the team, will have a dominant presence in the front court.

The newcomers include Jena Siegel '04, Karen Lee '05, Elyse Carlson '05 and Alexis Hollinger '05. Siegel will vie for time at the shooting guard position with her quick-release jump shot. Lee, an impressive walk-on from Campolindo High School in California, will ignite the defensive with her intensity and quickness. Hollinger, formerly of Kearsarge High School, is a strong rebounder who is continuously improving her low post moves short-range jump shots, as veteran forwards challenge her in pratice.

On the whole, the team looks to improve on last season and accumulate league victories. Bowdoin, Bates, Colby and Williams will continue to pose threats to the Panthers experienced squad. However, the Panthers feel they will have an advantage by hosting many of these opponents in their newly renovated home, Pepin Gymnasium. The familiar staff of Head Coach Noreen Pecsok (fourth season at Middlebury) and Assistant Sarah Raunecker '92 further emphasizes the team's experience and stability.

In practice thus far, the Panthers have emphasized defensive pressure, moving the ball quickly, increasing shooting percentages and maintaining a face-paced style of play. This strategy, combined with the consistent effort of an extremely knowledgeable and capable squad, should provide for a very exciting season.