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2004-05 Coaches' Season Outlook

 

    In May of 2004 the Wesleyan Cardinals graduated one of the most successful and most important classes in the program's 32- year history.  In posting a four-year record of 70 - 28 and two consecutive 20-win seasons (2002-03 and 2003-04) the Class of '04 demonstrated a commitment to excellence that has become the bench mark of Wesleyan women's basketball.  They leave behind a legacy that expects no less of returning and new players alike.  For four years, Ashley Elia, Amy Posocco, Liz Walsh and Meeghan Ward made important contributions on and off the floor and helped to create a team culture that pays attention to detail and focuses on doing everything to the best of one's ability.  This commitment combined with their collective passion for the game and fiercely competitive natures defined this formidable group of women and they can look back on their Wesleyan careers with pride and satisfaction.

    Despite the loss of such significant leadership, and their equally important statistical contributions, the 2004-05 squad returns a talented and experienced group that believes in its own potential to maintain the legacy of excellence and tradition of success.  Shortly after the end of last year's 20-4 campaign, the Cardinals returned to the gym for twice-weekly pick-up games and to the weight room for continued strength training.  Spurred as by much their success as by any setbacks, these women have their sights set on a championship season and will not be satisfied with anything less than their best effort.

    Co-captains Nora Bowman and Sue Frost, the only seniors on this year's team, will lead their teammates through a tough non-conference schedule and the ultra-competitive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) season.  The schedule opens with a tip-off tourney at Eastern Connecticut State University and what could be a match-up of the two best Division III teams in the state.  The schedule includes a winter trip to West Palm Beach, Fla. for two games where the Cards will face Emmanuel College, another of New England's top teams, a slate of other regional competition and the always intense Little Three series with two games each against arch-rivals Amherst and Williams Colleges.

    Nora Bowman and Sue Frost both played in the Connecticut state high-school championship games for their divisions and have assumed the leadership roles on the team, bringing experience, ability, and the respect of their teammates.  Nora won the state championship at Guilford High School and became the starting point guard at Wesleyan in her freshman year.  While her junior year stats are telling (six points per game, 80 assists with only 51 turnovers, 2.5 rebounds, 58 steals and an 82-percent free throw mark) they cannot begin to measure her importance to the team.  Her leadership at both ends of the floor, as a punishing and tenacious defender who often draws the oppositions best perimeter threat, and as the primary ball handler on every possession, is one of the keys to the team's success.  Despite a surprising lack of regional accolades, her presence on the floor can be seen and felt during every game, and was recognized when she was named the MVP of last season's Chicago University Midway Classic, won by the Cardinals.  Her long-time friend and AAU teammate is Sue Frost, a sharpshooter who is in her range when she's in the gym.  Sue gained valuable experience last season coming off the bench with a green light from Coach Mullen.  Her presence in the game stretched defenses, allowing easier entry passes to the post.  When the defense collapsed the Cards would play inside-outside enabling "Frosty" to punish the opposition with her ability to knock down long-range jumpers. 

    The class of '06 represents a wealth of talent and depth with five returning players.  Julie Kastenbaum is a guard who brings passion and intensity to every practice, and there is no one more respected by her teammates.  Ashley Mastrangelo emerged last season as a force in the middle, earning a season-long starting spot and contributing just over 10 points and six boards a contest.  With a slew of post moves and a soft touch, "Bash" really impressed her coaches with her developing ability to make assist passes out of double-teams and a commitment to defense.  Meg Robinson is a tough guard/forward with both offensive and defensive ability.  With the graduation of three guards Meg will have an opportunity to prove what her teammates and coaches already know: this kid can play and despite her limited opportunities in the past, opposing coaches had better factor her into their game plan.  Hannah Stubbs led the Cardinals in both scoring (13+ per game) and rebounding (eight per game), shot a blistering 57 percent from the field last season and was named to the all-NESCAC first team.  This intense competitor can outrun most guards and jump over taller defenders, and has demonstrated a toughness and ferocity that belies her quiet demeanor.

    The sophomore class is similarly deep and talented, although given the state of the program much of that was seen in practice, where the first team was pushed to get better every day by an enthusiastic and hard-working group of underclassmen.  Kelly Bowman is a slightly undersized post player with the speed and athleticism of a guard.  Her constant hustle and never-quit attitude earned her important minutes in the second half of the season and this extremely coachable player should see her opportunities to contribute increase.  Kristin Cortese made her teammates work on their defense last year by showing off a sweet shot and quick first step to the hoop.  This shooting guard may be looked to for some offensive punch but her tenacious defense is notable as well.  Ginny Hermann probably made more last-second and big shots in practice situations last year than any other player, frequently sending the first team to the baseline for some sprints with her solid stroke and quick release from beyond the arc.  An athletic and wiry guard, Ginny will see her share of chances to show what she can do this season.  Sarah Milburn added to the team's efforts last year, particularly in the second half of the season.  Her ability to penetrate and dish as well as see the passing lanes before they develop keeps both the opposition and her teammates on their toes.  While she loves to make the assist pass, Sarah's not afraid to take the big shot and knocked down several big treys during the stretch run last year.

    The incoming class of '08 offers talent, competitiveness, and their own histories of success.  Consuelo Gonzales will join the Cards from Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico where she was one of the state's leading scorers and in the top 10 in rebounding.  Nicky Maletta has the shortest trip to Wesleyan on arrival day, as she graduated from Coginchaug High School in next-door Durham, Conn.  Nicky was a first team all-state selection and scored 1,700 points in her high school career.  Stephanie Savas is from Brockton, Mass. where she filled up the stat sheets with her all-around play.  This hard-nosed guard/forward will fit right in to the Cardinals style of all-out effort on every possession. 

    The Cardinals are already excited about the possibilities ahead and making more exciting Wesleyan basketball history