Monday, April 18, 2011

Reflection: William and Mary

Taysha Pye
This is our third in a series of reflections about the 13 Division I teams in our state.

2010-11 season: 3-26, 2-16 CAA. Lost in first round of the CAA Tournament to Hofstra.

Who's leaving: Katy Oblinger (3.2 ppg), Lindsey Moller (1.2 ppg), Aleia Gland DNP

Who's coming: Anna Kestler, 5-5 G, Mount Lebanon (Pa.): Point guard who led Mount Lebanon to the PIAA Quad state championship all four years, winning the final three; dished out 12 assists in the state quarters despite playing with the flu; Kyla Kerstetter, 5-11 G, Brentwood (Tenn.): Graduates as the Lady Bruins all-time leading scorer with 1,619 points, averaging 22.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 3.4 apg and 2.4 spg her senior year. Also holds school records for points in a game (37) and points in a season (585), both junior year marks. Two-time district MVP; led Brentwood to the District 11 AAA title. Named First team all-Midstate Tennessee by The Tennessean. Holds a 4.367 GPA; Mackenzie Morrison, 6-4 C, Martensdale-St. Mary's (Iowa): Led top-ranked Martinsdale-St. Mary's to the 1A state title with a triple-double 14 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocks in the championship; the 10 blocks in the game and 25 in the tournament are both records. Scored 48 points and nabbed 32 rebounds in the tournament and was named captain of the all-tournament team. First team Iowa Newspaper Association.; Jazmen Boone, Princess Anne (Va.) Cavaliers finished as Group AAA state champions with a 31-1 record; defensive specialist who scored 15 points and 8 rebounds in state title game

High point: Defeating George Mason 69-57 (Jan. 23) for first CAA win

Low point: With 26 losses, we can't pick out one, but falling in OT three times and double OT once is discouraging for the Tribe.

Program stock: Downward turn

We try to stay positive at LadySwish, but 26 losses made for an abysmal season for the Tribe, which was 0-13 away from Williamsburg with 7 of the conference losses coming by fewer than 10 points. So what do you do if you're Debbie Taylor? Toss the game tape and the dumper, take a deep breath and go at it again. Because there's some great news come the fall. The Tribe look to have one of the best recruits in program history.

Mind you, we say recruit, because frankly, they all look good on paper. But W&M isn't traditionally in the mix for top recruit like Kestler, the diminutive point guard had considered Delaware, Vanderbilt, Rutgers and Virginia, to name a few, and looks to be steal for the Tribe. While size could be an issue,  her ballhandling skills and scoring prowess don't appear to be problems. We look forward to seeing Kestler in a Tribe uniform.

We also expect to see Taylor load up the nonconference schedule with some very winnable games for the Tribe -- much like Debra Clarke did for Norfolk State to start the 2010-11 season. W&M needs to learn how to win again and how to win game after game and string together some confidence.

But there were obviously deeper problems here that must be addressed for W&M to ensure this kind of season doesn't repeat itself. While injuries were a factor, they weren't the only one. This team was not a particularly effective unit for 40 minutes. During stretches they played well; down the stretch they didn't. We're not sure about the value of team bonding and team building exercises in all cases, but in this one, we don't think they'd be a bad idea to pursue during the offseason. This team lacked chemistry and cohesion and a voice to speak up and collect everyone when the opposition is making a run. Ideally leading scorer and rebounder Taysha Pye would be that player, but this much we know. Somebody needs to be. The Tribe let too many winnable games slip away, i.e., Drexel and Virginia Tech. The loss to the Hokies in double OT was particularly disturbing -- 18 in double OT?

Wendy Larry has a saying that applies here. You can play hard for 40 minutes. That doesn't necessarily mean you play effective for 40 minutes.

Defensively, the Tribe was the worst team in the league, and they did not have a player shoot the ball well from the perimeter. The brightest spot on the team was Kaitlyn Mathieu, a freshman post who shows real promise. Mathieu battled injury late in the season, but if she's healthy and committed to working out during the summer, she could develop into a real force inside for the Tribe.

We can't say the Tribe will be contending next season. We can say given that given there is no place to go but up, they should show marked improvement.

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