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Women’s basketball make new season a team effort

November 15, 2007

The Falcon women’s basketball team returns to the court this weekend after finishing fifth in the WIAC last season and getting eliminated in the semifinals.

The face of this Falcon team is vastly different than last season’s.

“We’re a lot shorter so our whole system is completely opposite from what we’ve been running in the past,” senior guard Jana Benitz said.

Last season the team did most of their scoring from the post players and point guard, but that will be different after losing their top seven scorers from last season.

“We are definitely going to be lacking height in the post but I think we can make up for that with our quickness,” senior forward Caitlin Hunstock said in an e-mail interview.

Departing players include All-WIAC team member forward Traci Reimann and All-WIAC honorable mention point guard Melanie Preiner, who will not be returning after using up their eligibility.

“Now it’s more even scoring and we have to work more as a team instead of relying on one player,” sophomore guard Kelli Hilt said.

This season’s team will consist of several players from last year that did not get a large amount of playing time and a group of promising freshmen and recruits.

“People aren’t going to recognize us,” head coach Cindy Hovet said.

The returning player with the most playing time last season will be Hilt, who started 19 games.

“She’s a leader for us,” Hovet said.

Hilt averaged 21.4 minutes per game and shot 33 percent from the field on the year. She was also one of the team’s best free throw shooters at 71 percent.

The Falcons only returning seniors are Benitz and Hunstock. Neither got much time on the court last season, but they will play a lot this year Hovet said.

“Neither of the seniors have a lot of experience, but we know the system and what the coach expects,” Benitz said.

Benitz was coming back from a knee injury and only played in three games. During the 2005-06 season however, she played in 19 games and shot 40 percent from the field.

Hunstock got into ten games last year and 22 in the 2005-06 season.

“I don’t really know how much playing time I am going to get, but I really hope to make a contribution to the team this season more than I have in previous seasons,” Hunstock said.

Also returning are sophomore guards Krystal Parr and Tessa Rohl. Parr did not start last year but played in 23 games and shot 32 percent from the field.

Starters have not been named yet but Parr and Rohl have both looked “really good,” Hovet said.

In 23 games last season Parr shot 32 percent from the field and had a 33 percent three-point field goal average, which was one of the highest on the team.

Rohl played in 11 games last season and shot 44 percent from the field.

Freshmen will play a large role as well. There are nine on this season’s team—over half of the entire roster.

“I’m really excited about [the freshmen],” Benitz said. “They work really hard.”

6’1 freshman Sarah Schoeneck has been practicing well, Hovet said.

“She’s our main big kid now,” Hovet said.

Other incoming players include freshman forwards Ashley Fischer, Molly Brendum and Brook Romanowski, freshman guards Lauren Pellowski and Tess Lardie and Winona State transfer guard Jenna Nelson.

“They’ll play a huge role,” Hilt said. “With only five of us coming back, we have to take their strengths and add to that.”

The Falcons were a preseason pick to finish sixth in the WIAC, and they are largely inexperienced, but as Hovet said, “just because we’re young, doesn’t mean we’re not going to be good.”

This season could be a transitional one for the team.

“We’ll be growing as a team, but I still expect us to do better than sixth in the conference,” Hilt said.

The Falcons first game is 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at St. Mary’s University.