Women’s basketball preview: Bearcats aim to build on success

Bethann Shapiro Ord takes over as Binghamton University head coach

Junior guard Kai Moon was seventh in the America East last season in both assists and steals. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Junior guard Kai Moon was seventh in the America East last season in both assists and steals.
Junior guard Kai Moon was seventh in the America East last season in both assists and steals. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

It’s a new era for the Binghamton women’s basketball program but the goal is to build upon its most recent success. After going 20-12 last year and advancing to the second round of the WBI, the Bearcats graduated a pair of all-conference players and head coach Linda Cimino accepted a similar position at St. Francis (N.Y.) College.

Enter Bethann Shapiro Ord as Binghamton’s new head coach. She arrives from Weber State, where from 2011-18 she rebuilt that program from the ground up. In the past three seasons, the Wildcats went 57-41 while playing in the Big Sky Conference and advanced to the WBI twice. Shapiro Ord now returns to her home state of New York and intends to take another step forward with the Bearcats.

“I am very excited to be the new head coach at Binghamton University,” Shapiro Ord said. “The community support and academic excellence are outstanding. I look forward to continuing to build upon the success of this program and take it to new heights.”

Shapiro Ord first met the team as a group during summer workouts in early July. Since then, she has seen the team improve both individually and collectively.

“The team has done a really good job of taking ownership and getting better as individuals, which means that the team gets better,” she said. “The chemistry has been great and that stems from my first conversations with each of them. They believe in each other and are there for each other.”

Despite the transition at Binghamton, the America East preseason poll still has the Bearcats picked fifth in the conference. Furthermore, junior point guard Kai Moon was named to the America East preseason all-conference team. The respect from the rest of the conference is evident but there are keys to living up to the predictions.

“We need to be a group that continues to get better,” Shapiro Ord said. “We need to never stop wanting to improve.”

THE PLAYERS

Moon was the Bearcats’ second-leading scoring last year (11.7 ppg.). In the conference rankings, she was fourth in free throw percentage (.815), seventh in assists (3.0 apg.) and tied for seventh in steals (1.8 spg.). After being named to the America East All-Rookie Team in 2017, she moved up to the third team last season.

“Kai has been a leader for us,” Shapiro Ord said. “I watched her on film before I got here. I am very excited to see what she can do this year. She is doing a really good job of helping the team to get better. She is a very good ball handler and decision maker.”

The Bearcats other returning starter is senior forward Rebecca Carmody. A versatile player who can start at a guard or forward position, she was the team’s fourth-leading scorer last year (7.4 ppg.). Carmody was also fifth in the America East in rebounding (6.8 rpg.) and tied for 10th in blocks (0.6 bpg.).

“Rebecca is a player who can do a lot of the things we need to be successful this year,” Shapiro Ord said. “As a senior, it’s her time to not hold back. She is really pushing herself to get better. Depending on the matchup, she can play several positions.”

After transferring last season from Georgetown and sitting out the 2017-18 season in accordance with NCAA rules, sophomore forward Olivia Ramil is ready to play in front of her hometown family and friends. A former standout at nearby Binghamton High School, she figures to make an immediate impact in the paint.

“Olivia is such a strong presence for us,” Shapiro Ord said. “She has been working on dominating in the post. She has such great hands and her strength inside is really going to help this team. She can get up and down the court well.”

Junior Carly Boland made 12 starts last year on the wing. Two seasons ago, she led the America East in three-point field goal percentage (.460). Last year, she tied for sixth in the America East in blocks (0.6 bpg.).

“Carly can score for us in number of ways,” Shapiro Ord said. “She is a big guard who can post players up or shoot from the perimeter.”

Carmody is one of three fourth-year players on the team this year. She is joined by senior forward Kennedi Thompson and redshirt junior Corrinne Godshall. Although they have been reserves the past three years, both have become vital to the team chemistry.

“Corrinne has been a surprise on the team this year,” Shapiro Ord said. “She has really been working hard. Kennedi brings very positive energy to practice and has also been working to get better.”

Junior Karlee Krchnavi is another versatile player who can play at the guard or forward positions.

“Karlee likes to play really quick,” Shapiro Ord said. “She is a good rebounder and does the things that don’t show up in the box score.”

Redshirt sophomore Bailey Williams suffered a season-ending injury last year. She returns to the court this year as one of the team’s best free throw shooters.

“Bailey is coming back from an injury and is determined to get better,” Shapiro Ord said. “She shows up every day and works hard and is a great teammate to those around her.”

Sophomore Kaylee Wasco made eight starts last season at the forward position. She figures to be instrumental in paint this season.

“Kaylee is going to be a good presence for us inside,” Shapiro Ord said. “She has very good post moves and defends well.”

Fellow sophomore Lizzy Spindler was a reserve player last year but showed promise from beyond the arc. Against UMass Lowell, she drained four consecutive three-point field goal shots.

“Lizzy has done a good job in wanting to help the team in any position we put her in,” Shapiro Ord said. “She can play in a number of the guard positions.”

Freshman forward Annie Ramil joins her sister Olivia on the Bearcat squad this year. Another former standout at Binghamton High School, she has already shown signs of growing into the college game.

“Annie is already a good leader in terms of communicating with her teammates,” Shapiro Ord said. “She is a very competitive player who is all over the court.”

The Bearcats’ other newcomer is freshman guard Hayley Moore, who arrives from Marlboro, N.J. She became a proven shooter in high school, a role she is seeking to continue in college.

“Hayley is a very good shooter.” Shapiro Ord said. “She is working hard to get adjusted to the college game.”

SCHEDULE

Binghamton new era begins with a Nov. 6 home game against Charleston University. The 29-game regular-season slate also includes trips to Notre Dame and Marquette as well as home and away games against the other eight America East programs.

The Bearcats’ contest at Notre Dame, which is scheduled for Dec. 16, marks the first time ever that they face the defending NCAA Division I champion. Marquette, who Binghamton travels to face the following day, tied for first in the Big East and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last spring.

Following its season-opener against Charleston, Binghamton remains at home for a Nov. 9 game against Cornell. Other home non-conference games are against Caldwell (Nov. 18), Lehigh (Nov. 21), Army (Nov. 25), Fairleigh Dickinson (Nov. 30) and Rider (Dec. 8). Also on the road, the Bearcats have non-conference games at Lafayette (Nov. 11), Ohio (Nov. 15), Niagara (Dec. 5) and Dartmouth (Dec. 31).

AMERICA EAST SCHEDULE

America East Conference play begins with back-to-back road games at Albany (Jan. 2) and New Hampshire. Binghamton then has three straight home dates against Stony Brook (Jan. 9), UMBC (Jan. 16) and Vermont (Jan. 19).

Other conference home games against are against Hartford (Jan. 30), Albany (Feb. 2), New Hampshire (Feb. 9), UMass Lowell (Feb. 20) as well as the regular-season finale against Maine (March 2).

On the road, Binghamton also heads to UMass Lowell (Jan. 23), Maine (Jan. 27), Stony Brook (Feb. 6), UMBC (Feb. 13), Vermont (Feb. 23) and Hartford (Feb. 27).

For the first time in over 20 years, the America East Tournament will be taking place on campus sites with the higher seeded school hosting each game through the championship. The quarterfinal round takes place March 6, the semifinals are on March 10 and the title game is set for March 15.

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