PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's basketball team gets an early start to the 2009-10 season, opening up this Sunday, Nov. 15, with a non-conference contest at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.
The Panthers will participate in the Maine Maritime Invitational Tournament in Castine, Maine, next weekend, Nov. 20-21, facing Rivier College in the opening round Friday at 6:00 p.m. Maine Maritime faces Newbury College in the second game at 8:00 p.m., with the consolation and championship games slated for Saturday at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.
Plymouth State will make its first home appearance at Foley Gymnasium on Tuesday, Nov. 24, with a non-conference match-up against Castleton State College (5:30 p.m.). The Panthers also have four straight home games in December to close out the semester, including the Little East Conference opener against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on Saturday, Dec. 5.
Plymouth State will play a competitive 25-game schedule this season, including 14 Little East affairs. The LEC Tournament begins the last week of February, with a champion being crowned on Feb. 27 and receiving an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
2009-10 PSU Women's Basketball Outlook
The Panthers are coming off their best season in several years, finishing with a 16-11 overall record last year and earning their first post-season berth since 2003. PSU returns eight veterans and four starters from that team, and 12th-year head coach Lauren Lavigne is hoping to continue the momentum this season.
"We have a good blend of old and new," said Lavigne. "We've got four senior captains who have been tremendous in bringing the younger players along. Just like last year, we have a small and more manageable roster, which has led to more productive practices and becoming a more cohesive unit."
The Panthers should have plenty of offense and experience this season, with the top three scorers and seven of the top eight back from last season, along with the top four rebounders. Lavigne says it's a versatile group.
"We have two ways we can play," said Lavigne. "We can go with a big line-up with three big post players, or we can go with a really quick line-up, with three quick perimeter players. We hope to create some mismatches, and make other teams try to match up with our rotation."
The top returning player is junior forward Amanda Kania (Manchester, N.H./West), who earned All-Little East Conference Second Team and All-New Hampshire First Team honors last season. She averaged 12.9 points and 6.6 rebounds, and also made 15 three-point baskets.
"She's extremely physical, and she's the strongest and fastest player on our team," said Lavigne. "Amanda can take over a game. She's really matured and she's become one of the forces in the conference."
Senior Laura Kent (Bellingham, Mass.) and sophomore Alicia Doucet (Manchester, N.H./Central) will join Kania in the Panther front court. Kent averaged 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds last year. She shot nearly 84 percent from the free throw line and led the league in free throws attempted. Doucet was named to the LEC All-Rookie Team last year and New Hampshire Rookie of the Year after averaging 10 points and 5.3 rebounds off the Panther bench.
"Laura Kent is extremely underrated," said Lavigne. "She continues to improve every year, and she can do so much both offensively and defensively. Alicia is a strong post player and an outstanding passer, too."
Seniors Kalie Judd (Peabody, Mass./Veterans Memorial) and Katie Sunderland (Londonderry, N.H.) return as the starting guard tandem. Judd finished third in the conference in assists and second in steals in her first year as starting point guard and Sunderland is a strong defensive player.
"Kalie is much more polished and savvy as a true point guard this year," said Lavigne. "She has more confidence and awareness in herself and her teammates."
Senior guard Gretchen Fritch (South Boston, Mass./Fontbonne Academy) gives the Panthers a top threat off the bench. Sophomore Michaela Galvin (Windham, N.H./Salem) also picked up valuable experience in the back court as a freshman and is looking to contribute this year. Freshman Colleen O'Hara (Otego, N.Y./Unatego Central) is the top newcomer, according to Lavigne, and will provide valuable front court minutes off the bench.
The remainder members of the roster are likely role players, who Lavigne said could see more playing time, depending upon the opponent and game situation. They include sophomores Kristen Cournoyer (Enfield, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) and Kristen Crotts (Danville, N.H./Timberlane) and freshmen Krystin Corliss (Loudon, N.H./Merrimack Valley) and Meghan Sweeney (Litchfield, N.H./Campbell).
"Our goal is to get into final four of the Little East Tournament, and then win the tournament," said Lavigne. "This year's senior class was 6-19 as freshmen, and they've stuck with it and built the program back up to where it should be."
-- 30 --