November 15, 2012

Season Preview: Fords have the look of a Centennial contender

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College women's basketball team will look for an encore performance in 2012-13 after rewriting the program record book last season. Setting new program records for overall and conference wins , the Fords secured their first playoff berth in history and advanced to the Centennial Conference semifinals.

Do not look for Haverford, 18-9 overall and 12-8 in conference play last season,  to rest on its laurels as this year's squad led by seniors Dominique Meeks, Victoria Sobocinski and Calla Miller aims to take the next step.

Meeks led the team, and finished eighth in the conference, in scoring last season with an average of 12.6 points per game. A second-team all-conference selection in 2012, Meeks hit for double figures in 19 games and paced the team in scoring 13 times.  One of the hardest-working players fifth-year head coach Bobbi Morgan has ever coached, Meeks posted 15 points and 10 rebounds in the opening round playoff victory over Ursinus to propel her squad to the semifinals.  Also the team leader in rebounds (7.1) and steals (2.4), Meeks will be aiming to cap her career with another memorable season.

The prime beneficiary of teams focusing on Meeks in the paint was Elizabeth Lynch who set a new program record for three pointers in a season in her freshman campaign. Averaging 9.6 points per game last season, Lynch hit five three pointers in her first collegiate game and keyed a 66-65 overtime victory over host Gettysburg College on Jan. 5 – the first win over the Bullets in the last 25 tries. The sophomore will be counted on for her long-distance prowess once again this season.

The Fords' impressive season was a true testament to the sum of the team's parts as six players averaged over six points a game. Rachel Baskin consistently filled the stat sheet (7.5 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.4 assists per game, 1.4 steals per game) and Sobocinski (6.6 ppg) and Miller (6.3 ppg) stepped up to hit the big shot on numerous occasions.  Taking over the reins of the offense in her freshman season, Jacquelyne Pizzuto(6.1 ppg) led the squad with 2.8 assists per contest. A true point guard, Pizzuto's exceptional poise will continue to be an asset for Haverford in 2012-13.

Displaying a marked improvement after a summer of hard work, sophomore center Shannon Smith should provide solid depth behind Meeks. Brianna Robbins and Hope Rainey also hope to be valuable pieces of the rotation this season.

The Fords also welcome back guards Pallavi Juneja and Nina Voith who missed last season due to injury. Voith scored over 800 points in her first two seasons in a Haverford uniform and should add another dimension to the solid offensive attack already in place.

Maddie Lupino, Emily Sweet and Olivia Walsh compose a talented freshman class that is expected to contribute.

The Fords trademark tough defense held opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field in 21 of their 27 contests last season on the way to holding teams to an average of 49.8 points per game (14th in all of Division III). Expect much of the same in 2012-13 as Haverford looks to contend for the conference title.

Coming off a Fall Break trip to Ireland, the Fords have already reached an intensity level at practice that Morgan, the 2012 conference coach of the year, had not previously seen in her time at Haverford. "There are a lot of people fighting for playing time," said Morgan.

A rugged conference schedule awaits as the Centennial figures to be as competitive as ever with a number of teams looking to be the final team standing.  Voted third in the conference preseason poll, the Fords gained immense confidence last season as they grew to see they can beat every other team if they play well.  

Another season full of promise begins Friday night as the Fords head to DeSales University for tip-off tournament action against The College of New Jersey.  The opening-round contest begins at 8 p.m.