The 2007-2008 CSUN women’s basketball team will have a new look as compared to the last four years.
With seven players from last year’s fourth place team having moved on, the Matadors now face the task of trying to hold its own with an entirely different makeup.
“One of our challenges is to get the chemistry, get the team to blend and take another group of many talents and get them to work together,” head coach Staci Schulz said.
Gone from the team are players such as all-time leading scorer Ofa Tulikihihifo, all-time assist leader Jamie McCaa and relentless rebounder, LaJoyce King. CSUN though returns 6-foot-4 Big West Conference Sixth Player of the Year Katie Holloway and another 6-foot-4 center, junior Crystal Hahs. Schulz says both Hahs and Holloway will see time alongside each other throughout the season.
“They’re looking real good in the post, so we’re going to have kind of that twin tower atmosphere.” Schulz said.
Junior Ashley Blake will shore up the point guard position with her speed and tenacity. Blake, along with Hahs and Holloway, who is the team’s lone senior, are expected to not only lead the Matadors on the court but also in the locker room.
“That was one of my big pushes for them,” Schulz said. “They’re great leaders and they’re filling those roles real well.”
CSUN also expects to get contributions from its sophomore players Shanice Howard, Morgan Pryor, Tinisha Patrick and Katrina Thompson. All four players saw limited minutes last season,but that’s expected to change this year.
“In the last couple of weeks, they’ve made the most progress and I’m quite pleased right now with the sophomores,” Schulz said.
The Matadors also bring eight new players into the mix. Bianca Davies has averaged nine points and seven rebounds, while shooting 49 percent at Oxnard High while Leneeka Boyd averaged 10 points and eight rebounds at Etiwanda High in Rancho Cucamonga.
“(Davies) is a small post player, but she’s very effective,” Schulz said. “Leneeka Boyd is a tweener player. She can play the three and the four and get on the blocks.”
Also coming in is Analee Viena-Lota, who averaged 14 points at Kamehameha High in Hawaii, the same school which Megan Ching, another senior from last year’s team, attended.
“She’s developed more as a Division I player than I thought she was going to be coming in,” Schulz said. “She’s a very nice surprise this year.”
Also expected to contribute are freshmen Charise Hall out of Valencia High, Crystal Trice out of Corona High in Cerritos, as well as community college transfers Whitney Ligon, who averaged 15 points at Santa Ana College and Tonicia Tademy out of Mt. San Antonio College. Sophomore Kayla Rutherford comes in as a transfer from Hope International University.
“They’re all standing out in slightly different ways,” Schulz said.
CSUN will have a tough schedule to start the season. The Matadors open their season with a pair of road games against the Pepperdine Waves on Nov. 9, then two days the San Diego Toreros, who have been picked as the WCC’s preseason favorite.
CSUN will open its home portion of its schedule against the UCLA Bruins on the 14th and will also have home games against Rice University on the 16th, as well as a road game against the Montana Grizzles on December 8.
The Matadors were picked to finish seventh in the Big West Conference Media Poll. The Coaches Poll had the Matadors finishing in a tie for eighth with UC Irvine. Despite the low expectations from the rest of the conference, Schulz thinks the team has a chance to raise some eyebrows this season.
“I think they’re going to surprise some people,” Schulz said. “It’s kind of hard to judge, but they’re looking good.”