2009-10 Women’s Basketball Preview

The frontcourt for Tech this year should remain formidable with the return of two solid starters in sophomore center Sasha Goodlett and senior forward Brigitte Ardossi. Goodlett, who started 29 games last season, is the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-5. She improved throughout last season and averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in her first season with the Jackets. Goodlett came on strong at the end of the year, especially during the NCAA Tournament, and should improve even further in her second season at Tech as the Jackets’ primary center.

Ardossi returns to play her fourth season at power forward for Tech. In her three years with the team, she has proven to be one of Tech’s top post players. Ardossi scored 7.7 points per game and put up a career-high 143 rebounds and 35 steals last season, and she improved her free throw percentage greatly from her first two seasons, hitting 81.9 percent of her shots from the free throw line. In her three seasons at Tech she has posted a .481 field goal percentage.

Tech has a handful of reliable reserves behind Goodlett and Ardossi. Sophomore center LaQuanaisha Adams stands 6-foot-4 and was Goodlett’s main backup last season, posting a .479 field goal percentage. Senior center Tiffany Blackmon offers experience off the bench, and sophomore forward Chelsea Regins provides a versatile option capable of playing in the post or on the wing.

Freshmen Danielle Hamilton-Carter and Shayla Bivins should contribute this season as rookies. Hamilton-Carter is a tall and athletic forward from Stockhom, Sweden whose international experience will help with the transition to the ACC. She should be a major asset to Tech and make an impact right away. Bivins has been ranked highly among Florida recruits and averaged 11 points and 10 rebounds per game as a senior at Stanton College Prep.

The women’s basketball team will see some new starters in the backcourt this season. Jacqua Williams and Iasia Hemingway, who played in the majority of the games last year, are gone. Williams, who was a fixture in the starting lineup as the team’s point guard, graduated at the end of a stellar four-year career, and Hemingway—a New Jersey native—chose to transfer to Syracuse University.

Junior guard/forward Alex Montgomery will miss several games to open the season while continuing to rehabilitate her knee. Montgomery had surgery on the knee after tearing her ACL in the ACC Tournament last spring. The 6-foot-1 junior led the team last season with 13.7 points and 6.7 points per game; she has emerged as a star for the Jackets, and the team will receive a major boost when she returns.

Junior Deja Foster will be relied on heavily this year thanks to the losses. Foster started in 14 games last season, emerging as a reliable option late in the season. Following her freshman season, she improved her numbers drastically in 2008-09 as her scoring average jumped from 1.3 to 9.3 points per game. Foster was named a co-captain last season along with Williams and should continue to improve as a junior.

There will also be two freshmen that will have an impact in their first seasons with the Jackets. Freshman Sharena Taylor, from Pontiac, Mich., will fill void as a point guard on the roster. Taylor has been ranked the No. 7 point guard in the 2009 freshman class by ESPN. She is a dynamic playmaker and should make an immediate impact for Tech. Freshman shooting guard Jasmine Blain, who stands 6-foot-2, will add depth to the roster. With her height and versatility, she should receive plenty of playing time in Montgomery’s absence.

The Jackets will immediately see new faces in games at the start of the season, and the incoming freshmen should have an impact from the start. This is not necessarily a bad thing for the Jackets, though, as experience and depth can be built right from the start of the season. Montgomery should be back before the ACC schedule begins at the beginning of next year, and until then she will likely be brought back into the lineup slowly, being rotated with other players that can get experience with gameplay.

The loss of Montgomery, who was arguably the team’s best all-around player last season, could hurt the team early on. Still, the team has plenty of other players capable of picking up the slack; also, Montgomery was not active when the Jackets won its first NCAA Tournament game against Iowa last season, so the Jackets have shown the ability hold their own as a team without their top offensive player.

The Preseason AP poll announced Tech’s women’s basketball team to be ranked No. 19 in the nation. This marked the first time that the Jackets had placed in the preseason top 25 poll and came despite the loss of a key leader in Williams.

Tech will benefit from strong leadership on the sidelines. Head Coach MaChelle Joseph has brought the Jackets to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and guided the team to a comeback victory over No. 2 North Carolina last year. The Jackets were ranked nationally for five weeks last year and made it as high as No. 22.

Tech will face stiff competition in the strong ACC, particularly from perennial powers UNC and Duke. The Jackets are a much-improved squad, though, and are looking to make a name for themselves in the conference. Joseph has guided the program to sustained success, and that success should continue this season as Tech attempts to improve further.