The GW women’s basketball team was one win away from their ninth consecutive 20-win season last year. The Colonial women were also probably one win away from their sixth-straight NCAA Tournament and eighth in the last nine years, but the injury-plagued 1998-1999 team lost to rival St. Joseph’s in the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Shunned by the selection committee despite a respectable and tournament-worthy 19-9 record, the Colonial women decided as a team they did not want their 20th win to come in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. With the return of senior point guard Elisa Aguilar, a core of experienced juniors and the addition of three talented freshmen, the team is hoping for a 20-win, NCAA-bound season.
(Last year) is a great incentive for us to do well, GW head coach McKeown said. We can go out and prove that (the selection committee was) wrong.
Despite the key losses of Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Noelia Gomez, Chasity Myers, Mandisa Turner and Khadija Deas, McKeown said the addition of the freshmen give the team tremendous depth that can score off the bench.
Leading the Colonial women will be all-Atlantic 10 Conference first-team member Aguilar, who averaged 15.4 points and 5.4 assists per game last season. Her knowledge of the court and her ability to hit a jump shot at crucial moments makes her an intimidating opponent for the rest of the A-10. The returning member of the Spanish connection shot 42.1 percent, 61-of-145, from three-point range, ranking her 25th nationally from behind the arc. Aguilar returns healthy this season after missing last year’s final six games with a stress fracture in her left ankle.
Aguilar leads a GW backcourt that McKeown calls one of the best in the country. Supported by junior Kristeena Alexander, who played 20 games for GW last season after transferring from George Mason, and senior Marlo Egleston, who averaged 5.8 points and 4.3 assists per game last season, the Colonial women guards are tough and quick. Alexander averaged almost 10 points a game last season and McKeown has called her one of the most explosive players in the history of the GW program. These three guards, all under 5-8, can lead a fast break and provide tremendous full-court pressure defense. In last Tuesday’s 80-50 exhibition victory over the University of Latvia Select Team, the three guards contributed 11 assists and four steals. With the help of junior Corrin Reid, the GW guards caused many of Latvia Select’s 29 turnovers for the game.
Kristeena is capable of 20 points a game, McKeown said. They can open the floor up and light up the scoreboard.
Two freshmen from California, Cathy Joens and Lindsey Davidson, should provide GW with multiple threats from behind the three-point line. McKeown said that a key to success this season would be the team’s ability to knock down the jump shot.
When we can shoot as well as we can shoot, we always have a chance. McKeown said.
Joens, at 5-11, comes to GW from Calvary Chapel High School, where she scored more than 1,600 career points over her four-year career. McKeown praised Joens’ physical play, noting her defense and toughness on the boards. McKeown said that Davidson, a 5-9 guard from Brea Olinda High School, is not the typical freshman player. Davidson was named a 1998-1999 Preseason Super 25 Player by USA Today and the No. 5 player on the Athlon Sports 1998-1999 list of top 50 high school seniors in the country. Davidson has shown tremendous competitiveness and fire in the early season practices.
Lindsey has the whole package, McKeown said. These freshmen can flat out play.
Freshman Erica Lawrence, from Nyack High School in New York, brings her quick, athletic 6-0 frame to GW, where she will support the returning Colonial women forwards.
The GW forwards are led by 6-3 junior Petra Dubovcova, who averaged over 10 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season. Fully recovered from a 1998 knee injury, Dubovcova will be looked upon as a leader with a greater scoring responsibility.
Petra’s a great player, and she’s finally healthy, McKeown said. She’s a big-time player.
Dubovcova is joined by juniors Starr Jefferson and Leslie Carlson in the paint. The hard-working Jefferson and Carlson will be asked to step up their physical play this season. Senior small forward Katarina Baskova is a good ball-handler who can hit the three-point shot. Baskova started one game last season but will see increased playing time this season.
McKeown said he hopes his team can send a message that GW can play with the best teams in the country. The Colonial women will be given a chance to prove themselves early in the season as GW hosts national powerhouse Rutgers University Dec. 4 at the Smith Center.
Any year we don’t compete for a national championship, we’re disappointed, McKeown said. This is the first time in nine years we’re not in the top 20, and that creates less pressure.
The offense-minded Colonial women must shoot the ball well in order to match up with Rutgers or strong A-10 teams like St. Joseph’s, Xavier and Virginia Tech.
The sky’s the limit, McKeown said. When we shoot the ball well we can be one of the better teams in the country.
The ultimate key to GW’s success this season is what probably cost the Colonial women a tournament bid last season – injuries. If McKeown’s team can stay healthy, GW is talented enough to return to the 20-win plateau and the NCAA Tournament.
We’re gonna have some fun with this team, McKeown said.