BBall Preview: Freshmen stand tall

Five exciting freshmen joined the GW women’s basketball team – a squad that is returning from a second-round appearance in last season’s NCAA Tournament. The newcomers show promise, according to GW head coach Joe McKeown.

All of them are trying hard to compete and should make contributions this year, McKeown said.

Marsheik Witherspoon, Alexis Darling, Valerie Williams, Demetria Tipps and Ugo Oha round out the roster of newcomers. Although they have only practiced together for three weeks, Oha has stood out, McKeown said. A high school All-American, the 6-foot-4 Oha was the most heavily recruited member of the incoming class.

She is probably a little more advanced as far as experience than the rest of the freshmen, McKeown said.

Coach McKeown hinted that Oha is in a position to advance in the line-up early in the season. Marsheik Witherspoon, the only guard in the pack of freshmen, has also stepped up in practices, McKeown said.

Since the Colonial women graduated three starters – Elisa Aguilar, Marlo Egleston and Starr Jefferson – Oha and Witherspoon could find themselves playing early and often. If she doesn’t start, Witherspoon could be used as a sixth-man spark-plug off the bench – a role Kristeena Alexander played at times last year.

I’m going to play, Witherspoon said. I used to handle the ball all the time and always was on the court, but now I back up a senior point guard (Alexander).

McKeown said it is difficult to compare this season’s rookies to last year’s group of freshmen, which featured Erica Lawrence, Lindsey Davidson and Cathy Joens, because the team’s chemistry is different.

We needed our freshmen to make an immediate impact last season, McKeown said. Our team is more balanced this year.

Both on and off the court, playing college basketball as a freshman has been a rewarding experience, the freshmen said.

It was good because we didn’t need to have to go out and make friends, Darling said. We automatically have twelve friends from the girl’s team alone.

I used to be the tallest one on my (high school) team, 6-feet-2 forward Williams said. Now, there are at least five people on our team alone that are as tall or taller than me.

The freshmen agreed practice has been tough, but they said the effort will have rewards.

Now practice is even harder (during the season), Witherspoon said. But, we know it’ll pay off in the long run, especially against teams like (the University of Connecticut) and Rutgers.

These freshmen have no shortage of enthusiasm, and rattle off some pretty lofty team expectations.

We’ll win the Atlantic 10 Championship, Witherspoon said.

Added Darling: And we’ll at least hopefully get to the Sweet 16.

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