PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's basketball team hopes to get the 2006-07 season off on the right foot this weekend when it hosts the Cobblestone Inn Tip-Off Tournament Saturday and Sunday at Foley Gymnasium.
The Panthers will face Norwich University Saturday at 5:30 p.m., with Simmons College and Westfield State squaring off in the second game at 7:30 p.m. The consolation game is set for Sunday at 1:00 p.m., with the championship game to follow at 3:00 p.m.
Plymouth State has solid history in recent season-opening tourneys. The Panthers captured the championship of the MIT Tip-Off Tournament in 1999, the Colby Tip-Off Classic in 2000, the Swarthmore Tip-Off Tourney in 2001, and the Cobblestone Inn Tournament in 2005.
PSU also has four more home games as part of the first semester schedule, including a match-up against Granite State rival Colby-Sawyer College on Tuesday, Nov. 28, and three more on home court the first three Saturdays in December.
Plymouth State will play a competitive 24-game schedule this season, including 14 Little East Conference affairs. The LEC Tournament begins the last week of February, with a champion being crowned on Feb. 24th and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2006-07 PSU Women's Basketball Outlook
Led by ninth-year head coach Lauren Lavigne, the Panthers are ready to move back into contention in the Little East Conference after a couple of sub-par seasons.
"We have all agreed that we have underachieved the past couple of seasons," says Coach Lavigne (right). "We've played well but let too many games get away from us. It's time for us to step up and start winning those close games and move up in the standings."
The Panthers have eight veterans back from last season, including four starters and four others who saw regular playing time. There's a group of four seniors who are the team leaders.
"The four seniors have been through a lot," says Lavigne. "They've worked hard to get us ready for the season."
Coach Lavigne says this year's team is improved and has more depth than others in recent years.
"We have more options than we've had," says Lavigne. "We're not as one dimensional. We have some size and quality players inside, and we have some players who can shoot the ball from the outside. We have quite a bit of talent, and they're making it hard for me to decide who should be playing."
The strong senior class includes guards Colleen Mahoney (North Attleboro, Mass.) and Ashley White (Merrimack, N.H.) and forwards Kaitlin Linehan (South Boston, Mass./Savio Prep) and Heather Thomas (Merrimack, N.H.) They've been the heart of the team the past couple of years, and all have seen significant playing time. Mahoney and White have been solid contributors to the Panther offense, while co-captains Linehan and Thomas provide defense and rebounding.
"Colleen has become very vocal this year; I've never seen her work so hard," says Lavigne. "Heather seems to play better off the bench, but she gives a lot when she's in there. Ashley has a lot of experience, and Kaitlin gives us power down low."
Junior guards Meghan MacDonald (Salem, N.H.) and Joy DePalo (Enfield, N.H./Mascoma) have continued to improve and will be key to this year's team. MacDonald finished second on the team in scoring last year with 9.0 points per game. Sophomores Kayla Morin (Pascoag, R.I./Burrillville) and Janelle Chiles (North Andover, Mass.), a strong defensive threat, are other returnees who should also make contributions off the Panther bench.
Lavigne is pleased with the newcomers and feels they add a spark to this year's team. Sophomore Annie Alosa (Concord, N.H./Manchester Trinity), a transfer from Georgian Court, is contending for a starting role at guard, as is junior Lauren Daniels (Concord, N.H./Concord), a transfer from Keene State and NHTI. The top freshmen look like guard/forward Karly Gray (Southampton, Mass./Williston Northampton) and forwards Laura Kent (Bellingham, Mass.) and Emily Bryant (Anchorage, Alaska/South Anchorage).
Rounding out the roster is freshman guards Gretchen Fritch (South Boston, Mass./Fontbonne Academy), Molly Coffin (Berwick, Maine/Noble) and Kathy Frankowski (Unionville, Conn./Farmington).
"I'm extremely optimistic about this year," says Lavigne. "I don't like being optimistic and being let down, but I think we have the potential to have a great season."
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