With four returning starters from the team that finished fourth in the nation last March, the women’s basketball team is heading into this season with lofty goals.

Last year’s 24-6 record marked the most wins the program has ever seen and, according to Head Coach Jim Scheible, this year’s team may be even more talented.

“I have high expectations for these girls,” he said. “We have a very talented, athletic team.”

The only problem with last year’s success, according to Scheible, is that UR is now a program that other teams will look to beat. That fact, combined with some of the most competitive teams the Yellowjackets’ UAA conference has ever seen, will make getting back to the tournament a difficult task.

UR’s tough defense and their offensive flexibility are their major strengths. Talent should not be an issue this season, making team chemistry the most important factor in UR’s success.

With two senior guards as captains, the team should be well on their way. Point guard Tara Carroza is returning in her third year as captain. Her offensive versatility will drive the team. She can shoot the three-pointers, penetrate and create plays.

At two guard is returning senior Erika Smith. Her shooting ability and quickness off the dribble will add another dimension to the Yellowjackets’ backcourt game. In addition to her offense, Smith is also one of the team’s best defenders, in either a zone situation or one on one.

Returning junior Kelly Wescott will check in at power forward. According to Scheible, Wescott is the most athletic power forward he has ever coached. She can score on the low block or shoot from the high post.

Anchoring the team at center is returning junior Megan Fish, the top competitor on the team, according to Scheible. Fish’s low post play will complete UR’s frontcourt. She has the ability to post up with either hand and is a deadly shooter from as far as 17or 18 feet.

The fifth starting spot is yet to be determined, but the Yellowjackets shouldn’t have any trouble finding talent to fill the spot. According to Scheible, this year’s freshmen and returning players are deep and talented.

Scheible says the team’s first goal will be to win the conference. Five of the last seven national champions have won the UAA. The Yellowjackets have high expectations to fill, but Scheible believes it can be done with hard work and practice. “We are willing to work hard for our goals,” he said. “We definitely want to win a championship.”

The Yellowjackets open their season at the Palestra on Nov. 21 with a rematch of their Sweet 16 victory over Ithaca College.

Taylor can be reached at katylor@campustimes.org.

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