NewsLady Cougars Return Experienced Lineup in 2004-2005
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - With a roster consisting of 11 returning players, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University women’s basketball team will have the experience that the team has lacked the past two years when the Lady Cougars tip off the 2004-2005 season on Tuesday, November 2, at Ohio State University-Newark.
MVNU is coming off a 7-22 overall record a year ago with a lineup that included eight freshmen and only two seniors. However, the Lady Cougars will reap the benefits of last season as seven of those freshmen return with significant experience under their belts after learning on the job in their first college season.
"I am excited about the fact that I actually have a solid core of returning players this year,” said MVNU head coach Steve Gregory, who has posted an 81-101 record in six years at his alma mater. "Last year, we brought in eight freshmen and those freshmen have now turned into sophomores. As they gain experience, they also gain confidence. They have a better understanding of what the coaching staff wants and expects. They can also now help out the new freshmen who have just been introduced to our program.”
Sophomore Katy Barry (5-foot-7) returns at the point guard position after averaging 2.0 points and having games with 12 and 10 assists respectively last year. "Katy is very good at finding the open player and delivering the ball on target, and she has improved her perimeter jumper as well as her shooting off the dribble,” said Gregory.
Katie Keller, a 5-foot-6 sophomore, returns at the shooting guard spot after averaging 14.3 points and nailing a team-best 66 three-pointers in earning American Mideast Conference South Division Second Team, AMC South Division All-Freshman Team, and National Christian College Athletic Association East Region Second Team honors last year. "With any luck, we will be able to keep Katie primarily at the shooting guard position,” said Gregory. "She is an outstanding shooter and slashes to the basket well.”
Ashley Banas, a 5-foot-6 sophomore guard, will most likely back up the point guard position as well as seeing some time at the shooting guard spot. Banas averaged 3.2 points and dished out 108 assists last year. Sophomore guard Allison Linak (5-foot-7) is another strong perimeter shooter, and she will join the team once the MVNU women’s soccer team’s season is over. She averaged 5.9 points and nailed 38 treys as a freshman. Senior co-captain Joni Peelman will also provide depth at the guard position.
Jenny Morris, a 5-foot-8 junior, returns at the forward position. She averaged 7.0 points and nailed 38 three-pointers last year in her return from a knee injury. "Jenny is a good perimeter shooter and one of our co-captains,” said Gregory.
The center position is still up for grabs with sophomore Amanda Rowe (6-foot-1) and junior Erin Arnett (6-foot-2) battling for the starting job. Rowe averaged 4.0 points and 2.7 rebounds with 14 blocked shots last year, while Arnett contributed 8.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game and was an NCCAA East Region Honorable Mention pick. "Both Amanda and Erin have improved their ability to work and seal for the ball as well as improving on their post moves,” said Gregory.
Sophomore posts Miranda Capuano (6-foot) and Beth Ryder (5-foot-10) also return and both will see action as part of a deeper bench for MVNU this season. Capuano averaged 2.9 points and 3.7 rebounds last year, while Ryder averaged 1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds. Senior forward Britney Beavers will also add depth for the Lady Cougars.
Freshman Amy Sebastian (5-foot-9) will most likely start at the 3-guard spot. She averaged 22.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.9 steals, and 3.0 assists as a senior at Landmark Christian Academy and became the school’s all-time leading scorer. She was a three-time All-Conference and All-District First Team selection and was named the Conference and District Player of the Year as a senior.
Madisyn Helton, a 6-foot-2 post player, will also see significant playing time for the Lady Cougars in her first collegiate season. She averaged 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game as a senior at Cambridge High School, and she was an All-District Third Team pick as a junior.
"Both Amy and Madisyn are two rookies who will be counted on to help this team succeed,” said Gregory. "They were highly-touted coming out of high school, which brings with it certain expectations. Amy is versatile enough to play the shooting guard positon or a forward spot. She has a great work ethic and plays hard. Madisyn has shown great potential and will only get better as the season progresses. She likes to shoot the perimeter jumper, which will catch some teams off guard at her size.”
After the season-opener at Ohio State-Newark, MVNU will travel to the Union (Ky.) College Tournament to face the host Lady Bulldogs, who received votes in the NAIA Division II preseason poll, and Tennessee Wesleyan College on November 5-6. Then, the Lady Cougars will host Concordia (Mich.) University on November 12 in the annual Homecoming game. The team will also play non-conference games at Geneva (Pa.) College, Rochester (Mich.) College, and perennial NCAA Division III power Capital University in addition to home and away games with Concordia and Ohio State-Newark.
MVNU will be challenged every time out in the rugged AMC South Division as the Lady Cougars will play home and away against Cedarville University (2nd in the NAIA Division II preseason poll), Shawnee State University (8th in NAIA Division II), Ohio Dominican University (receiving votes), University of Rio Grande (receiving votes), Walsh University, Malone College, Tiffin University, Urbana University, and Wilberforce University.