Women's Basketball Season Preview

Thursday, November 14, 2013 - page 2

During the fall season, Katy Mitton served as a PA announcer at Muhlenberg soccer, field hockey, volleyball and football games. This winter, Mitton and her mates on the women’s basketball team hope to announce that they’re not going away.

Leeann Lanza
Lanza ranks fourth on the program's all-time list with 87 blocked shots, including a career-high 35 last year.
The Mules, who open the season tomorrow against Rowan in the Scotty Wood Tournament, have had an enviable run of success over the last eight seasons: at least 17 wins each year and finishes of no worse than third place in the Centennial Conference, five CC championships and six NCAA Tournament berths, including two trips to the “Sweet 16.”

Fueling that run was a string of marquee players; All-Americans and first-team all-conference stars who have their names all over the program’s all-time lists. This year, for the first time since 2005, Muhlenberg begins the season without a returning all-conference player.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line for the Mules, who were picked third in the CC preseason poll.

“The atmosphere is different, but it’s a good different,” said Mitton, one of four senior captains.

“It gives everyone on the team the opportunity to prove themselves,” she explained. “And you can see it in practice. We don’t have that one go-to person, so everyone has a chance to shoot or get that rebound or make that special play.”

Colleen Caldwell
Caldwell had a career-high 72 assists last season and averaged 3.7 over the final six games.
The Mules will use their roster makeup to their advantage – without one or two players who need to be on the court for 35 minutes a game, the minutes will be divided more evenly. And with those frequent substitutions, Muhlenberg will play an uptempo style.

“The nice thing about this team is that we have the ability to go 13, 14, 15 players deep,” said Mitton. “That’s an awesome feeling as a senior captain knowing you can rely on every single person and knowing they can produce.”

Three of the senior captains are among the six six-footers on the team and play forward. Erin Laney, the top returning scorer (6.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg), and Mitton will be more perimeter-oriented, with Leeann Lanza (6.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg) positioning herself down low.

Other returning forwards are juniors Laura Gregory and Emily Lesher at the wings and junior Leanna Tallamy and sophomore Christina Santone on the blocks.

A trio of returning point guards will run the show. Last season, senior co-captain Colleen Caldwell and junior Hannah Rush split time and combined to average 6.7 assists per game. Junior Janelle Fleet was off to a good start before suffering a season-ending injury, and her return will bolster the Mules.

At shooting guard, junior Nicole Pepe hopes to pick up where she left off late last season, when she scored in double figures in five of the last seven games. Junior Abby Stenger and sophomore Jordan Labbe also will see plenty of time.

“The offensive side will be more spread out,” said Mitton. ̴It’s going to mean that people will need to step up more, and you can see that they’re willing to do that.”

And although the names might be less than familiar at the start, Mitton said the goals are the same as always: win the Scotty Wood Tournament, win the CC championship and advance as far as the team can in the NCAA Tournament.

“To us they’re realistic goals,” she said. “We have the ability and the talent. We’re just going to find a different way to get there this year.”