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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

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Field hockey honor

Season Preview
hopes high for women's basketball

The Muhlenberg women’s basketball team is rejecting the bailout program.

This has nothing to do with the government, banks or the auto industry. It
Kelly McKeon
McKeon has a career record of 65-14 as the starting point guard.
has to do with who will step up and make big plays with the game on the line in 2010-11.

The Mules, who open up at home with a game against local rival Moravian on Monday, are optimistic after recording their third straight 20-win season last year. They finished with a record of 21-6, won the Centennial Conference regular-season title and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.

The team closed out the season with consecutive losses to McDaniel in the CC championship game and Tufts in the NCAAs, however. According to senior Alexandra Berlin, those two games had in common a trend that Muhlenberg hopes to reverse this season – an over-reliance on their two scoring leaders, senior Kelly McKeon and junior Alexandra Chili.

“We can’t wait until crunch time and think, Kelly will bail us out, or Chili will bail us out,” said Berlin. “It’s not fair to them. Everyone on the team has the ability to score, so we want to have a more balanced attack and have a sense of urgency right from the start.”

If a team was to rely on only two players, it could
Alexandra Berlin
Berlin scored a career-high 18 points in only 20 minutes against Dickinson last year.
do a lot worse than McKeon and Chili, both of whom were first-team All-CC selections last year.

McKeon, the CC and Mid-Atlantic Region player of the year, is one of the top point guards around. She averaged 13.1 points per game and led the team in rebounds per game (7.3), assists (121) and steals (63). She passed the 1,000-point mark in the second-to-last game of the season and needs 51 assists to become the program’s all-time leader.

Chili is soon to join McKeon in the 1,000-point club; she enters the season just 49 points away. Chili, who averaged a team-leading 17.4 points
Sheila Cook
Cook is averaging 8.9 points per game for her career.
per game last year, is also closing in the school record for career three-pointers.

Joining those two in the backcourt is Berlin, who started the last five games of her first season with the Mules after transferring from Loyola (Md.). She averaged 4.9 points per game and figures to be much more comfortable with a year at Muhlenberg under her belt.

Sophomore Alita Zabrecky had a strong first season, averaging 5.4 points and 4.9 rebounds, and junior Katy Rossino returns as a reserve point guard.

In the frontcourt, the top returnee is senior Sheila Cook, who averaged a career-best 11.2 points last year. She has shot over 50 percent from the field for her career and will once again be expected to provide scoring in the post.

Cook should have more help in that area this year. Junior Kathleen Naddaff has looked good in the preseason, says Berlin: “She is playing with a lot more confidence and really taking the ball to the basket aggressively.”

Then there is the class of five freshmen, which includes four post players who stand 6-0, 6-0, 6-2 and 6-3.

“They give us a new dimension with their height, which is something we were missing at times last year,” said Berlin. “They’re very tough and have great ability. To have that presence inside is great.”

The new crop of freshman post players will allow sophomores Kate Clawson and Julie Kelly to move to their more natural positions on the wing. Clawson averaged 5.0 points, while Kelly showed potential in limited time after beginning the season sidelined.

All in all, the Mules return 88 percent of their points, 78 percent of their rebounds and 87 percent of their assists from last year. Add in the newcomers, and it’s no wonder the players can’t wait to get started.

“We have an opportunity to go so far. We’re all very excited about what we can possibly do,” said Berlin.

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