Guards Andrea Holmes, left, Orla O’Reilly and Jackie Ward, right, will lead the Bearcats against non-conference opponents such as Rider, UMass and Lehigh.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Women’s basketball preview: Experienced guards lead BearcatsTweet
Coming off a disappointing campaign in 2009-10, the Binghamton women’s basketball team is determined to bounce back this season. A solid group and a renewed sense of purpose have hopes high for third-year head coach Nicole Scholl and the rest of the Bearcat squad.
“I’m looking forward to a new season,” she said. “We have a strong group of returners with three returning starters and a good blend of new talent. Attitudes are great and the work ethic and focus they have has been fun to coach.”
Leading the way for the Bearcats is junior point guard and preseason all-conference selection Andrea Holmes. After just two seasons, she has already been named all-conference twice (third team and the conference’s rookie of the year as a freshman and second-team as a sophomore). She led the team in scoring last year (13.3 ppg.) and was among the America East leaders in assists (4.7 apg.). As an upperclassman, Holmes is entering her third year as the leader of the floor for Binghamton.
“Leadership really sums it up for Andrea,” Scholl said. “I know she is more comfortable with it and looking forward to that responsibility. I think she has gained a lot of respect from her teammates and with the experience we have especially with our backcourt she has confidence in playing that part.”
Joining Holmes in the backcourt is senior guard Jackie Ward, who ranked third on the team with 10.9 points per game. She is the lone senior on the team this season but her experience will be vital to the squad.
“Jackie’s overall experience and confidence is what the team will benefit from the most,” Scholl said. “I know she would love to have a great senior year, but for her that means the ‘team’ will have a great year.”
Holmes and Ward anchor a backcourt that Scholl is very confident about heading into the year. Junior Olra O’Reilly and freshmen Jasbriell Swain and Stephanie Jensen are among the other players who will make an impact.
“Our backcourt is very solid right now,” Scholl said. “Andrea, Jackie and Orla will be asked to play all three guard spots and all work extremely well in the open floor. Jas Swain adds defense and dribble penetration and Steph Jensen is a fantastic outside shooter.”
Up front, junior Viive Rebane is the top returnee. After being named to the America East All-Rookie Team in 2008-09, she ranked first on the team and seventh in the conference with 7.1 rebounds per game as a sophomore. She also averaged 8.2 points per contest. As a junior, Scholl hopes for Rebane to be just as active as a scorer in addition to being an excellent rebounder.
“Viive is extremely focused and confident this year,” Scholl said. “She came back in great shape and has improved her outside game over the summer. For us to be successful, Viive needs to continue to not only rebound, but to be a consistent scoring threat for us.”
Also returning up front are junior center Emma Cronk, junior forward Sinead O’Reilly and sophomore forward Simone Thomas. Freshman Kyra Aloizos is the top newcomer.
“Our post players have worked very hard over the summer and during the preseason,” Scholl said. “Each of them brings something different to our team. For us to be successful we need to have a good inside-out game so teams can’t focus so much attention on our guards.”
This year’s rookie class is one that Scholl believes will help the team greatly. The five players who will take the court this season bring a variety of dimensions to the squad.
“Jasbriel Swain, Steph Jensen and Emilie Vachon will all provide depth in our backcourt,” Scholl said. “Jas is a fearless competitor who can get to the basket, defend and rebound. Steph Jensen has deep range on the perimeter and brings in a wealth of playing experience from Denmark. Emilie Vachon has unfortunately been out with an ankle injury, but will spend time at the point and off-guard positions. Kyra Aloizos is an inside-out post who has great touch from the perimeter.”
This year’s non-conference schedule starts off at St. Bonaventure on Nov. 12. Home games come against Canisius, Army, Siena and Cornell. On the road, the Bearcats face Rider, Lehigh, UMass and Mt. St. Mary’s. In addition, the Bearcats head to tournaments at Northern Arizona (Nov. 26-27) and Monmouth (Dec. 29-30).
“Our non-conference schedule will once again be challenging, but at the same time will help us prepare for the America East Conference,” Scholl said “We open up with St. Bonaventure which has been a strong A-10 team, so that should show us where we are at right away.”
In the America East, Binghamton has been picked to finish third behind Boston and defending regular-season champion Hartford. The Bearcats open up conference play with a Jan. 6 home game against Stony Brook.
“The AE conference graduated a lot of talent, but seems to always replace it with new talent,” Scholl said. “Boston, Hartford, Stony Brook and UMBC in my mind have the most talent coming back. We were happy with our third-place preseason ranking, but we all know that means nothing once conference games start. Each game will be a challenge, but that’s what makes our conference so exciting. Having three new head coaches in our league should also make it interesting.”