A Look Into The 2012-13 LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Team

The 2012-13 LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Team
(Photo Credit: LIU Brooklyn Athletics)

For the 2011-12 LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball team, the year couldn’t have gotten off to a greater start. In fact, it was all-time record start for the Blackbirds. Head coach Gail Striegler’s team started the season with a sizzling hot 11-1 non-conference record. That record included wins at Drexel from the CAA, Charlotte and LaSalle from the Atlantic 10, at Nevada from the WAC and Oklahoma State of the Big 12. Sprinkle in a 1-1 NEC record from two December games and the Blackbirds entered 2012 and the rest of the NEC season in great shape at 12-2.

Unfortunately, the hot play didn’t continue into January as they started off rocky losing the first three of four NEC games before straightening out the ship with two wins in a row. After two more loses in a row, the Blackbirds finished strong going 6-2 down the stretch of the NEC season. Their 10-8 NEC record earned them a 6-seed and a date with Monmouth for the NEC quarterfinals. Although Monmouth withstood a second-half charge by the Blackbirds they held on to win 68-56 ending the Blackbirds once seemingly promising season.

LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball Head Coach Gail Striegler (Photo credit: LIU Brooklyn Athletics)

As the 2012-13 season approaches, Gail Striegler and her coaching staff has some uphill challenges to face. First off, this season’s team has seven new players on it meaning their there is going to be a transitional period as these new players get up to speed on the team’s offensive and defensive philosophies and style of play which Coach Striegler hopes to keep it at an up-tempo. “These kids are really in a learning phase.” said Coach Striegler at NEC Media Day last week. “They are excited to be out there. You lose four starters (from last season) and nobody knows who is going to get the minutes so I think they are really playing hard and practicing hard to get the minutes so it makes it very competitive out there right now.”

The first challenge is having to replace LIU’s all-time leading scorer for either men’s or women’s in Ashley Palmer. Palmer finished her LIU career with 2044 points and lead the team and the NEC in scoring last season with her 19.2 PPG along with her 7.7 RPG.”We have to have other people step up without a doubt.” said Gail Striegler regarding life now without Palmer on this team. Striegler and her staff not only had to replace Palmer but four other seniors who graduated after the end of last season. “It is a big opportunity for them too.” said Striegler about her players chances to find playing time now. “I think most of them are looking at it as an opportunity and having their chance to finally get out there and play the minutes they want to get, they’re going to earn. It is a transition.” LIU was picked to finish sixth in this season’s NEC women’s basketball preseason coaches poll.

Senior forward #10 Ebony Davis (Photo Credit: LIU’s SeawanhakaPress.com)

The Blackbirds return six players from last season’s 21-10 team. Just three of the those players had starts last season. 6’0″ senior forward Ebony Davis who started in 21 of 30 games last season is the main returning starter. She averaged 10.0 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game in close to 26 minutes per game. Davis shot at a 49.5% clip from the field and was the team’s leading free throw shooter last season. She also guards the basket well at nearly two blocks per game which was second in the NEC. She will be looked upon to be one of the leaders on this team. Also returning is 6’2″ senior center Tamika Guz. She started in eight of her 31 games last season but according to Gail Striegler “has looked fantastic in practice”. Guz averaged 3.5 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 12.6 MPG. Looks for her numbers across the board to increase. 6’0″ junior guard/forward Cleandra Roberts started in 2 of 31 games last season. Roberts averaged 4.6 PPG and 2.6 RPG in under 17 MPG. 6’0″ sophomore forward/center Tiffany Patterson also returns. Patterson played in 18 minutes in 9 games last season but could get an opportunity for playing time this season.

Returning in the backcourt for the Blackbirds is 5’5″ senior guard Krystal Wells. Wells averaged 6.5 PPG/2.0 RPG/0.6 APG in 31 games which included 12 starts. Wells was the team’s three-point bomber from last season shooting 122 three-pointers. The downside was she hit just 41 three’s for a 34% three-point percentage. Wells shot just under 36% from the field last season. She’ll need to shoot a better percentage as she looks to enter the starting lineup this season.  She did tie for second on the team in steals with 1.1 steals per game. Also returning is 5’9″ sophomore guard Letava Whippy. Whippy played in 27 games last season averaging 7.1 minutes per game. She scored 21 total points for the season.

Of the seven newcomers to LIU this season, four of them are junior college transfers. Fanny Cavallo is a 5’11” junior forward who played at Georgia Perimeter College last season. She averaged 8.6 PPG/9.1 RPG/1.4 BPG at GPC last season. 5’10” junior forward Genise Presley played at Jefferson College in Missouri. She averaged 3.7 PPG and 4.7 RPG last season while shooting at a 42% clip from the field in 36 games played. Honor Duvall is a 6’0″ redshirt sophomore who arrives at Downtown Brooklyn from New Mexico Junior College. She averaged 14.1 PPG and 6.0 RPG while shooting 53% from the field in 26 games played last season. 5’6″ junior guard Courtney Sullivan comes to LIU from Marshalltown Community College in Iowa.

Along with the four JUCO transfers are two freshman and another transfer. Kelly Robinson comes to LIU after transferring from University of Massachusetts. She sat out last season after transferring. She played the year before at UMass playing in 27 games, starting in four of them. She scored 52 total points, 33 rebounds and 51 assists in her freshman season. She played her high school ball at PSAL power Francis Lewis in Queens. The two freshman are 6’3″ forward/center Jahmia Phillips and 5’7″ guard Sophie Bhasin.

Another challenge is preparing this team for the fast approaching non-conference schedule which will again feature some tough competition. This year’s non-conference schedule features a very tough matchup against Big East powerhouse Rutgers in New Jersey as well as home matchups against Ivy Leaguers Penn and Ohio from the MAC. The Blackbirds also go on a long but nice road trip to Hawai’i to face off against some very stiff teams in Hawai’i of the Big West, Alabama of the SEC and Cincinnati of the Big East at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational in Honolulu. “Our kids want to play against these kinds of teams.” said Coach Striegler. “Everything in the non-conference is to put us in a position to play well in the conference.”

If the non-conference schedule wasn’t going to be tough enough, the Blackbirds start off the NEC season with two tough road games. They have to go to Quinnipiac and then to Sacred Heart who were picked one and two respectively in the NEC women’s basketball preseason coaches poll. Then they return home to a three-game homestand which concludes with a matchup against the Monmouth Hawks. The Hawks were picked third in the NEC coaches poll. That is three of the top five in the first five NEC games for LIU. They play Bryant, Saint Francis (PA), Robert Morris and Central Connecticut once this season. The NEC season concludes with home games against Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart.

The Blackbirds will be playing on ESPN3 this season in a home NEC matchup versus Robert Morris on Saturday, February 2 at noon. Other TV games which will be part of this season NEC-TV package has yet to be announced so more TV games could be in the Blackbirds future. All home games will be broadcast on the brand new NEC Front Court as well as most of their NEC road games. LIU’s first game of the season will take place on Friday, November 9 at noon versus Columbia at home at the Wellness Center.

Coach Gail Striegler knows with a team with seven new players on it, it’s going to take some time for get some cohesion and form an identity. Striegler noted, “It is a team that is going to grow, have some growing pains at the beginning but hopefully at the end will come together. We definitely have the talent to be very successful. I think we will be fighting for it at the end. We have every opportunity to be there at the end.” If they can gel and figure the kind of team they are going to be sooner than later, LIU Brooklyn women’s basketball could make some noise in the NEC this season and become a sleeper team come March. Only time will tell.

You can follow the entire LIU Brooklyn Women’s Basketball coaching staff on Twitter. Follow Head Coach Gail Striegler (@LIUwbb), Associate Head Coach Lisa Pace (@coachpace), Assistant Coaches Terrell Coburn (@CoachC_30), Chelsea Wolf (@_CoachWolf) and Director of Basketball Operations Erin Geary (@coach_erin) and follow @LIUAthletics for in-game updates.  

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