Date Posted:11/16/2001,  8:00AM

2001-02 Bowdoin Women's Basketball Preview

The Bowdoin women's basketball team completed the 2000-01 season with the best record in the 27-year history of the program. The Polar Bears finished 21-8 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA national tournament before bowing out to the #2-ranked NYU Violets, 64-60. After finishing their New England Small College Athletic Conference schedule with an 8-2 mark, Bowdoin won the inaugural NESCAC conference tournament and received an automatic bid to the national tournament.

Bowdoin traveled to Eastern Connecticut in the first round of the NCAA's and escaped with a 61-53 victory. In the second round the team traveled to Salem State and avenged an earlier-season loss with a 72-65 overtime win. In their fifth consecutive road game, however, Bowdoin fell short in their upset bid at NYU despite out- rebounding the Violets 41-19, and holding them 13 points below their average. Trailing by 16 in the second half, the Polar Bears mounted a courageous comeback and took a 5-point ead with 2:55 remaining in the game but were held scoreless for the remainder.

After such a tremendous season, what does one do for an encore?

"We're not trying to follow up what we did last season," says Head Coach Stefanie Pemper. "We're starting fresh. There are different personalities, different leaders and different talents this season. Developing team chemistry takes time. What we are trying to duplicate is the work ethic, the team attitude and camaraderie, and the focus on becoming the best we can become. That's our goal every year. Smart teams take it one game at a time and that's what we're gonna do."

Although the Polar Bears return three of five starters, they will look to their three captains for important leadership this season. Senior Jessie Mayol (Westbrook, Maine) acts as the Polar Bears' coach on the floor often directing changes in offenses and defenses, and controlling the tempo with her aggressive play and decision- making ability. Junior Kristi Royer (Lewiston, Maine) led the team with 14.8 pp and 8.1 rpg last year, earning her first-team All-NESCAC honors and first-team All-ECAC New England. Royer proved she is one of the top players in the region with her offensive versatility, her solid defense, and her ability to consistently produce. Junior Corinne Pellegrini (Canton, Mass.) is a strong low-post defender, good perimeter shooter, and one of the team's best passers.

"I've said all along we have the talent and depth to be a strong team and that it's more the leadership of players like Stacey Baron '99, Alli Marshall '00, Raegan LaRochelle '00, Sam Good '00, Jamie Bennett '01 and Lauren Myers '01, that we need to succeed," says Pemper. "Early indicators show that our captains and even some underclass leaders are working hard and setting the right tone on the court and in the lockerroom. Jessie, Kristi, and Corinne, work very well together and lead by example and that's all we can ask."

Also responsible for carrying some of the offensive load will be sophomore Lora Trenkle (Surry, Maine) a second-team All-NESCAC selection and NESCAC Rookie of the Year, who averaged 13.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg and 2.7 apg last season. Sophomore Kristina Fugate (Glenview, Ill.) played in every game last season, and will often match-up defensively against the opponent's best player. She will also look to carry over the offensive consistency that gained her All-Region honors at the Sweet Sixteen last year.

The Polar Bears will once again rely on a talented bench to contribute, and will need a number of underclassmen to step up. Junior Jess Reuben (Houston, Texas) returns with her 6-1 frame and smart mind for the game and has all kinds of offensive and defensive potential. Also at forward will be sophomore Lindsay Bramwell (Marshfield, Mass.), whose leadership, athleticism, and inside- out versatility could really benefit the team. A group of first-years will be counted on this season, led by Erika Nickerson (Benton, Maine) an aggressive forward who can run the floor, rebound, and score. And rookies Kacy Karlen (East Bethel, Vt.) and Maren Leuer (Long Lake, Minn.) who at 6'3" and 6'1" respectively could provide the team with height, depth, and athleticism in the post.

The guard position is also deep for Bowdoin, as sophomore Courtney Trotta (Sharon, Mass.) returns after playing a critical role in last year's run. Trotta's decision-making, leadership, and ability to hit the open jumper, could spell trouble for opponents. Her classmate Beth Damon (Livermore, Maine) is one of the Polar BearsÍ toughest athletes and defenders and will see increased time this season. Rookie Alison Smith (Stockton Springs, Maine) is also a strong defender and rebounder, and has displayed impressive poise and offensive versatility for a first-year.

The Polar Bears are ranked 23rd in the national preseason poll, and traditionally play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the nation. That, combined with the balance that exists in the NESCAC, results in an exciting season to come.

"Our goal is exactly the same as last season," says Pemper. "We want to be one of the top four teams in the NESCAC and give ourselves a chance to compete for the NESCAC championship. We haven't even talked about the ranking. It's more important to focus on the Wellesley Tip-off Tournament and pay attention to the process of developing chemistry and good habits early in the year. As a team, we want to establish low-post scoring, but we also have the ability to push the ball and hit the outside shot. Defense and rebounding are things we really stress, and as the year goes on I think we have the athleticism and intelligence to really take opponents out of what they want to do."