Monta?ana and Simmonds lead young Colonials

The GW women’s basketball team will begin practicing Saturday, and head coach Joe McKeown’s task will be tougher than in years past.

McKeown has to incorporate four freshmen and five sophomores into the lineup after the loss of four seniors last spring. Two of the players, Cathy Joens and Ugo Oha, were selected in the WNBA draft before being cut in training camp.

Despite the loss of two of the best players in program’ s history, McKeown is optimistic that the Colonials can have a strong season.

“I am really excited about this team because their work ethic and attitude have been tremendous during the preseason,” McKeown said.

GW players and coaches said they have been waiting for the opportunity to get back onto the court since losing to DePaul University in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in March.

“We all got a little bitter taste in our mouth after how last season ended,” McKeown said. “We want to prove that this team can stand on its own. It’s exciting.”

“I think we are so impatient to start practicing, because we have high expectations,” added senior All-American candidate Anna Monta?ana.

The four GW freshmen were all highly touted high school players. Kimberly Beck and Sarah-Jo Lawrence will add depth in the backcourt and forward Lora Mitchell brings size and shot-blocking ability to GW.

“I think (the freshmen) are really good,’ Monta?ana said. “I am really excited about them. They’re really motivated and they are competitive and they are working very hard.”

The fourth freshman, Lisa Steele, will begin the season on the sideline with a stress fracture in her left foot. Steele hopes to begin practicing in late October after her cast is removed.

Another new face for the Colonials is Jessica Simmonds, who transferred from Providence in 2003. Simmonds sat out all of last year due to NCAA regulations but still has two years of eligibility remaining.

“She’s a real hard-nosed, physically tough kid,” McKeown said. “She is someone you don’t want to play against because she won’t let her team lose.”

The Colonials open their season on Nov. 19 against rival Georgetown and will take on the University of Tennessee, a perennial powerhouse, on Nov. 23.

“When you’re GW and you have been a national power for the last 12 to 13 years you try to make (the schedule) as difficult as you can,” McKeown said. “Because knowing you might see some of these people in March and you want to prepare yourself.”

McKeown Chooses Third Assistant

Jacob Solomon will join Lisa Cermignano and Tajama Ngongba as the third assistant coach on the GW women’s basketball staff. Solomon established Pan-Continental basketball, an organization that provides coaches with scouting services.

The native of Southampton, England was an assistant coach for Manhattan College from 2001-2002. From 1996-2001, Solomon coached at University College London, where he posted a 51-9 record and led the team to three conference championships.

“His strengths I felt fit the need of the program at the time and he has a lot of recruiting experience,” McKeown said. “He coached at Manhattan so he has been at the Division I level. I felt like his personality fit our staff and he’s somebody who really brings something to the table.”

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