This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Marty Fenn.
What: Women’s basketball season-opener (0-0) at Georgetown (0-0)
Where: McDonough Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: Friday, November 11 at 7 p.m.
The back-to-back reigning Atlantic 10 Champion Colonials begin their 2016-2017 season with a bang this Friday as they visit cross-town rival Georgetown.
The teams last met in 2014, when GW edged the Hoyas 72-60 in the Smith Center.
The Case for the Colonials:
The regular season-opener will also mark first-year head coach Jennifer Rizzotti’s GW debut. The former Hartford head coach takes over a program which lost key leaders in Jonquel Jones and Lauren Chase this offseason. However, there is a lot to be said for these Colonials, who could be sleepers in the A-10 after being picked to finish fourth in the league’s preseason poll.
For one, the Colonials return major contributors from last year. Senior forward Caira Washington is now the marquee figure of the team after posting a career year with 13.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, racking up First Team All-Conference honors. Washington is as much a force in the paint defensively as she is offensively, but her defensive presence could very well be bolstered by the arrival of transfer graduate student Lexi Martins, who was one of the best rebounders in the country at Lehigh University last year, averaging 13.6 boards per game.
A large part of the Colonials’ success last year could be attributed to their ability to rebound on both the defensive and offensive glass, and that should continue this year. Senior guard Hannah Schaible rebounds at a surprising clip for a small forward (6.0 per game), and is sure to make a huge impact on both sides of the ball. Schaible’s versatility on the offensive and defensive ends and her hustle play are consistent energizers to the rest of the squad, and her mid-range jumper is a consistent offensive weapon for Rizzotti’s new motion offense.
Likewise, the Colonials are extremely deep on the wing. Junior guard Brianna Cummings experienced a breakout year for the Colonials last year and was in fact perhaps the best player on the floor for a three-game stretch after Jonquel Jones went down with an injury mid-season.
Similarly, don’t be surprised if senior guard Shannon Cranshaw has a big game or a big year. Cranshaw struggled to get good shots in Tsipis’ offense last year, but Rizzotti’s fluid system seems like a better fit for the three-point gunner.
The Hoyas are a poor three-point shooting team and, like the Colonials last year, depend on their ability to rebound the basketball and score in the paint. But the Colonials have the more formidable paint presence, which poses problems for Georgetown.
The Case for The Hoyas
Georgetown finished 16-14 in a Big East conference that advanced three teams to the NCAA Tournament last year. Despite being picked to finish fifth in the conference after losing five seniors, this team is still dangerous, in large part due to their versatility.
Six-foot-one-inch junior guard Dorothy Adomako’s ability to score the ball from different angles could certainly provide problems for the Colonials, who may have to stretch defensively and match the smaller Cummings against Adomako.
On the “shorter” end of the stick, 5-foot-5-inch sophomore guard Dionna White is the Hoyas’ version of Schaible. Despite her height, White led the Hoyas in with an astounding 6.1 rebounds per game last year. She also tied for the team lead in scoring with Adomako – both averaged 14.5 points per game – while leading the team in assists, steals, and three-pointers made.
Although Georgetown struggles to score the basketball and shoot from outside, they were a staunch defensive team, the type that spelled trouble for the Colonials last season. If the Hoyas can match up with the Colonials defensively and neutralize Rizzotti’s offense, they might be able to overcome their reliance on points in the paint and sneak out a win.
The Colonials are a new-look team and it will be interesting to see how they adapt to a new system, but they have experienced and versatile players that know how to get the job done. While the Hoyas will throw various different weapons at GW, look for the visitors to take home the win.