With 10 returning letter-winners and a talented freshmen class, the women’s basketball team boasts an impressive roster coming into this season.

UR finished last year’s campaign as Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Champions, with an overall record of 16-11, while recording six wins and nine losses in the prestigious University Athletic Association.

The UAA is widely regarded as one of the country’s top Div. III conferences, with the past five national championships belonging to UAA members ? New York University in 1997 and Washington University in St. Louis from 1998?2001.

NYU and Washington will indubitably be two of the top teams UR will face in regular season action. Each is consistently ranked among the top 15 teams in the country, and each recorded only two losses in the 2000-2001 season.

Head coach Jim Scheible expects his team to “get into the top four in the UAA this year,” and hopes to “challenge the top two teams as well.”

Beyond the UAA, UR will face tough regional competition as well. William Smith and Nazareth are perennial upstate powers, and UR will get to face the region’s finest in local tournaments, including the Chase Lincoln Tournament in January.

Scheible is looking for his team to “push the basketball and score a lot in transition.” With 12 underclassmen on a roster of 15, his young team will look to captains senior Jen LaBuda and sophomore Tara Carrozza for leadership.

LaBuda returns as the team’s leading scorer with 10.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per game last year, as well as 59 assists, 14 blocked shots, and 31 steals. She has earned second team All-UAA honors for the past two years at the guard position, and is the only member of the team with three years of experience playing for the Yellowjackets.

The second of the senior pair is Anne Gotstein. After transferring from Washington for the 2000-2001 academic year, Gotstein started 26 of 27 games as both a guard and forward for UR.

She led the team with 5.6 rebounds per game, while finishing third in scoring with 7.3 points per game, third in assists with 58, and second in steals with 41. She also won recognition as MVP of last year’s ECAC tournament, and honorable mention honors from the UAA.

Sophomore point-guard Erika Smith and forward Shannon Higgins round out last year’s top four scoring threats.

Smith finished second in scoring with 8.7 points per game in addition to leading the team in assists ? 75 ? and steals ? 54 ? en route to UAA honorable mention honors, while Higgins finished her freshman year with 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Sophomore center Katie Harrington, junior forward Sarah Sullivan, sophomore forward Tanika Murphy and sophomore guard Beth Zuilek round out the returners.

The freshmen that will battle for playing time are centers Megan Damcott, Megan Fish and Ashley Latimer, forward Kelly Wescott and guard Hallie Frederick. Four of the five freshmen are over 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and all enter UR with distinguished high school achievements, Schiebel said.

LaBuda is pleased with the balance of experience and talent on her team. “We have a lot more experience this year, and some extremely talented freshmen,” LaBuda said. “The freshmen will learn quickly that we play in a tough league and will adjust quickly. It should be a good combination for a successful season.”

There will also be depth in the reserves of the junior varsity program. Under the leadership of head coach Beth O’Boyle, the Yellowjackets recorded a 6-2 record in the inaugural season.

This year’s team has expanded to 10 players, competing in 12 games against local community colleges and other junior varsity teams. The squad is led by sophomore captains Emily Call and Amy O’Byrne and sophomores Sue Karalia, Erika Bellis and Kelly Trendell.

UR’s varsity team will open the 2001-2002 season tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. against Ithaca College at the Louis Alexander Palestra as part of UR’s annual Chuck Resler Invitational Tournament.

Seferiadis can be reached at jseferiadis@campustimes.org.

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