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Muhlenberg College

Thursday, February 24, 2011

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Wrestling preview

Championship Preview
Women’s basketball hopes
to keep on practicing

Alexandra Berlin
The Mules have gone 34-8 against CC opponents since Berlin joined the team last season.
With all due respect to a certain former NBA superstar, the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team actually enjoys running drills and working on fundamentals for an hour or two each day.

The Mules don't mind talking about practice.

So while senior captain Sheila Cook said some of her teammates have been stressing about schoolwork this week, they all seem to find a sudden sense of calm and focus when they step into Memorial Hall each afternoon.

And with Muhlenberg preparing to try add to its record five conference titles at this weekend’s Centennial Conference Tournament at Johns Hopkins, Cook said the intensity at practice is as high as it has been all season, adding that the Mules are peaking at just the right time of the year.

“I think everybody is just stressed about getting all their work done so they can be ready for the weekend and focus solely on basketball,” Cook said. “Everyone is just frontloading right now, getting everything done. But of course we always find a way to have a good time at practice.”

The second-seeded Mules will face third-seeded Gettysburg in the first semifinal at 1:00 on Saturday. The top seed, and host, Blue Jays will square off against No. 4 seed Franklin & Marshall in the second semi at 3:00. The championship game is scheduled for 2:00 on Sunday.

Not that Muhlenberg needs any added motivation, but this weekend could also potentially be an opportunity to avenge its last three losses — two to Johns Hopkins and one to Gettysburg.

Cook and fellow senior Kelly McKeon have beaten every CC team at least once per season. Hopkins is currently 2-0 against the Mules this season,
Kelly McKeon
McKeon ranks eighth in conference history with 92 points in six CC playoff games.
and Cook said she would want nothing more than to beat Gettysburg and then have the chance to do to the Blue Jays what McDaniel did to Muhlenberg last season: cut down their nets on their home floor.

The senior duo will also try to become just the third class in conference history — along with Muhlenberg’s class of 2009 and the McDaniel class of 2005 — to claim three CC championships. The Mules won back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009 before falling in last year’s tournament final.

And while they may have had their sights set a little higher three years ago, Cook said she really wants redemption for last season and would be more than happy to have to “settle” for three titles.

“Kelly and I came in freshman year kind of jokingly saying we wanted to win the Centennial Conference four years in a row,” Cook said. “Then at the end of sophomore year we had won two in a row, so we were like, ‘OK, we’re going to do it.’

“Of course it didn’t happen for us last year, but we still have a chance to do something really special. I would love nothing more than to go three-for-four.”

Muhlenberg has won its last six games and is undefeated in the month of February. The Mules also moved up to No. 5 in the most recent NCAA regional rankings, jumping Gettysburg in the process.

And while that certainly helps Muhlenberg’s case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, Cook said she would rather just take care of business and earn the automatic berth that comes with the conference crown.

That would mean at least one more game for the Mules. And for Cook, McKeon and classmate Alexandra Berlin it would also mean at least one more week of being able to practice together.

“Last year was nerve-racking sitting around after that game not knowing if our season was over or not,” Cook said. “So we don’t want to deal with that anymore. We just want to win the next two games so we know that there’s another one coming and we don’t have to sit around worrying.”
Click here for the championship website.

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