The 2000-01 Wesleyan University
women's basketball team posted a 13-9 record, signaling a return to
prominence in New England Division III basketball. In doing so the
Cardinals developed an identity as an exciting team that loves to run
and defend. During head coach Kate Mullen's nine-year tenure at
Wesleyan her teams have been known for their defensive intensity and
discipline, and the 2000-01 squad emerged as a relentless team that
can strike quickly in transition as well as execute their half court
sets. An infusion of talent from the frosh and sophomore classes
blended with the experienced leaders of the team, giving the
Cardinals the depth to play their signature man-to-man defense and
maintain their up-tempo style the entire year. Graduating seniors
Leslie Smith and Ellen Tuzzolo will have these highlights to look
-- A team record nine-game winning streak
-- Nationally ranked for field-goal percentage defense (at one point ranked #2) holding teams to just 33% for the season
-- Nationally ranked for average margin of victory in December
-- A season sweep of Little Three rival Williams College
-- A season best ranking as the number two team in the Regional NCAA poll
-- A season best ranking as the number six team in the New England Women's Basketball Association (coaches) poll
-- A team record 84 three-point field goals made
Wesleyan's strong showing in the 2000-01 season has only raised the expectations of the returning players and the coaching staff. The Cardinals will look to the class of 2002 and the trio of talented veterans in Shay Bernius, Whitney Ebbeson and Allyson Mille, to provide poise, power and points. At 6-1, Bernius provides a defensive presence in the post and draws defenders out of the paint with a soft touch from the elbow; the 6-0 Ebbeson, a captain as a junior, uses her height and quickness to play both the three and four positions and causes match-up problems for the opposition; Miller is a relentless offensive rebounder and can score in the post as well as drain the 15-foot jumper.
The Cardinals again will look to the class of 2003 for scoring punch. Shaleen Bowman led the team in scoring with 14.5 points a contest, as well as in minutes played, steals, three-point field goals made, and floor burns. Kamica Lewis poured in 11 points per game, led the team in rebounds and blocked shots and was second in steals.
The class of 2004 is talented and deep. Ashley Elia provided a lift off the bench, shooting an eye-opening 48% from three-point range and displaying a fundamentally sound all-around game. Amy Posocco started every game at point guard and led the team in assists while demonstrating the ability to score from inside and out. Liz Walsh adds strength, toughness and rebounding in the paint combined with a solid low-post game. Meeghan Ward was slowed by injuries in her frosh year but has the ability to score in bunches, and thrives on driving the lane and getting to the line.
Coaches and players alike are already working towards next season. The players are in the weight room and the gym, getting stronger and working on their game. The Cardinals forged a powerful identity for themselves in the 2000-01 season and believe that greater success will come with dedication and hard work. For Wesleyan women's basketball the old adage is apt and true: Teams are made during the season, players are made during the off-season.