The Shippensburg University women’s basketball team looks to build off last season’s success and transform that into more wins in its 2012-2013 campaign.
The Raiders, picked to finish fourth in the PSAC East, boast a strong backcourt and will look for underclassmen to fill the void left by the departure of Monae Baker.
SU’s backcourt is a dangerous bunch, led by Shawna and Dana Wert, and perimeter sharp-shooter Sarah Strybuc. The three, combined for over 50 percent of the team’s total points, as well as over 70 percent of the team’s total assists.
The Wert twins are highly dangerous on the defensive side of the ball and their explosiveness off the dribble makes them one of the most feared tandems in the league. Their aggressiveness causes fits for opposing offenses as the two of them accounted for 69 steals throughout the 2011-2012 campaign.
Their offensive prowess is equally as impressive. Dana Wert remains an excellent facilitator in the backcourt and has fed teammates with great passes and given them numerous open looks. Dana Wert’s 110 assists were the highest on the team and that has a good chance of increasing this year.
Strybuc was the beneficiary of a lot of those assists. The junior guard was the team’s main threat from be- yond the arc last year as she netted a team-high 60 three- pointers. Strybuc is an excellent catch-and-shoot player who has the ability to put the dagger in close games.
Despite the strong backcourt, the Raiders will be looking for answers in the post.
Baker, the team’s presence in the low-post, was the Raiders’ leading scorer and rebounder during the 2011-2012 campaign. Averaging nearly a double-double throughout the season (14.9 points per game, 9.5 rebounds per game), SU will need to rely on underclassmen and senior Caitlin Bamberger to fill Baker’s shoes.
Bamberger, who has been fighting injury problems throughout the preseason, was a reliable rebounder and dominated the offensive glass at times, collecting 58 offensive rebounds throughout the year.
Bamberger’s work ethic will aid the progression of incoming freshman Mariah Traywick and current starter Stephanie Knauer. The two underclassmen are benefitting from Bamberger’s experience and have shown head coach Kristy Trn that they are ready to be called upon to help in the post.
“I think [Bamberber] is taking the role of trying to make sure that Traywick
and Knauer are where they need to be,” Trn said. “She’s trying to show them what they need to do offensively and defensively down low.”
Traywick and Knauer have shined so far this preseason and both offer different skill-sets that the Raiders can use in their arsenal throughout the year.
“Knauer has proven so far in practice that she is a strong rebounder and a strong defensive player and has found the ability to give us the presence we lost with the absence of Baker,” Trn said. “Traywick is more of a finesse post-player who is more agile off the dribble and can shoot the perimeter shot.”
The Raiders need to focus on finishing games in order to improve on last year’s record. In six of its 13 losses last year, the Raiders fell by five or fewer points. Finishing is something that Trn has been preaching this preseason.
“We need to finish a 40-minute game,” Trn said. “Our reactions to situations cannot let them affect the next play.”
The Raiders have the pieces they need to make a serious push in the PSAC playoffs, but finishing that 40-minute game will ultimately dictate how good this team can be.
SU opens its season next Sunday when it hosts Washington Adventist at 2 p.m. at Heiges Field House.