Women's Basketball Set to Open 2015-16 Campaign
BALTIMORE, MD- The Johns Hopkins women’s basketball team will open up its 2015-16 schedule Saturday, when it hosts the annual Mike Durgala Memorial Tournament. Head coach Nancy Funk returns for her 30th season leading the Blue Jays, which return seven players from a team that went 16-9 a season ago. Those seven returners will be counted on to help provide leadership to a talented group of eight freshmen, who will make their debuts in Goldfarb Gymnasium this season.
The Schedule: Funk put together a schedule that will challenge the Blue Jays this winter. In addition to 18 games against Centennial Conference foes, JHU will play a non-conference slate that includes fifth-ranked NYU, RIT, Division I Navy and Messiah. Hopkins will also welcome Pitt-Bradford, Catholic and Trinity (TX) into Goldfarb this weekend for the Durgala Tournament.
CC Preseason Poll: Although the Blue Jays will play this season with a roster full of freshmen, coaches and sports information directors around the Centennial Conference still picked Hopkins to finish second in the CC this season. JHU and McDaniel finished tied atop the preseason poll, but the Green Terror collected more first-place votes. Following McDaniel and Hopkins, it was Muhlenberg, Gettysburg and Haverford rounding out the top half of the poll. All teams picked to finish in the top five of the preseason poll received at least one of 20 first-place votes.
Who’s Back?: A big reason the Blue Jays earned so much respect in the preseason poll can be attributed to the return of three All-Centennial players from 2014-15. Katie Clark, Beatriz Williams and Liz Tommasi played in all 25 games and were Hopkins’ top three scorers a year ago. Clark and Tommasi will return to their positions in the backcourt, while Williams will see time at both the guard and forward positions this winter. Hopkins is the only school in the conference to return three All-CC players.
Also Returning: Rachel Cook and Janay Smith will both see time in the post, as well. Cook played in all but one game last season, while Smith provided depth down low. Coach Funk is impressed with how much Caroline Corcoran improved over the summer, and the junior guard appears ready for a bigger role this winter. Rounding out the returners is Scarlett McCracken, an experienced guard, who joins her classmates Clark, Tommasi and Williams as captains. The four seniors will be called upon to help lead one of the largest freshmen classes in the nation.
The New Crew: With only seven upperclassmen, the Blue Jays’ freshmen class is expected to factor in right away. Rory Cole has exceeded her coaches’ expectations in the preseason and will be counted on to score, rebound and defend down low. Lexie Scholtz will be looked upon to handle the ball and help run the offense, while Lillian Scott and Sophia Way are a pair of versatile guards who can score and also handle the ball, if needed. Way, who missed time in the preseason due to an injury, is slowly catching up and should see an expanded role as the season progresses. Emma Brennan and Madison McGrath should both be ready to contribute and could be dangerous from long range. Marissa Varnado will play on the perimeter at the guard and forward positions and Maggie Spitzer will join Cole in providing size and depth as a forward and in the post.
2015 Mike Durgala Memorial Tournament: The Blue Jays will open up play Saturday against Pitt-Bradford at 1:00pm. At 3:00pm, Catholic will take on Trinity (TX). Saturday’s winners will meet in the championship at 3:00pm Sunday, immediately following the consolation game at 1:00pm. The four teams playing in this weekend’s tournament combined to win 74 games last season.