Oct. 16, 2009
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University women's basketball team features plenty of newcomers as they begin official practices in preparation for its 2009-10 season-opener Saturday, November 13. Jennifer Mountain enters her second season as Broncos' head coach, but her first opportunity to guide a team consisting largely of players she's recruited.
"Everyone talks about the first year being a transition year, but I almost feel like we are in our second transition year," said Mountain, who took over the SCU program in April of 2008. "We don't have a lot of returners with experience. However, the mentality that (the returners) have, along with the fresh faces and the winning attitudes they bring with them will make a tremendous difference."
Important early-season dates:
Friday, Oct. 16 - First official team practice
Sunday, Oct. 25 - Open practice (season ticket holders encouraged to attend, choose seats)
Tuesday, Nov. 3 - Exhibition-opener @ CSU Monterey Bay
Saturday, Nov. 7 - HOME exhibition game versus Sonoma State
Saturday, Nov. 14 - Regular-season opener @ Iowa (Hawkeye Challenge)
Sunday, Nov. 29 - HOME-opener versus Utah
Santa Clara has welcomed seven true freshmen to the Mission Campus - in fact, 12 of the team's 16 players are underclassmen. Mountain expects a major contribution from Colorado's 2009 Class 5A `Player of the Year,' 5-foot-7 combo guard Meagan Fulps (Littleton, Colo./Highlands Ranch HS). Fulps led Highlands Ranch High School to three-straight Colorado state championship titles.
Fulps, 6-foot-4 center Ruta Zurauskyte (Siauliai, Lithuania/Regis Jesuit [Colo.]), three-time all-state guard Ashley Armstrong (Reno, Nev./Bishop Manogue HS) and Southern California recruits' Telisha Anderson (Stanton, Calif./Magnolia HS), Noe Viloria (Garden Grove, Calif./Huntington Beach HS) and Becca Thomas (Riverside, Calif./Redwood HS) will all practice for the first time as collegiate players Friday, October 16.
"I am really proud of the class we've brought in," said Mountain. "We're much better than we were last year. We're different. I think we will be quicker, more athletic. Now we have an inside-outside game, so people won't be able to hone in on Lena (Gipson). That should open up things, allowing her to do a bit more."
Gipson did quite a bit a year ago, leading the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals - posting 19 double-doubles (points-rebounds) in 30 starts. The 6-foot junior forward from Hanford, Calif. and Fresno's San Joaquin Memorial High School pulled-down 307 rebounds as a sophomore, third-best all-time in the University's 44 years of sponsoring women's basketball.
Sophomore guard Alyssa Shoji (Bellevue, Wash./Issaquah HS) figures to be a key component to the inside-outside game Mountain hopes to develop for Gipson. Shoji ranked in the Top 5 among all WCC players last season in 3-point field goals made and 3-point shooting percentage.
The first chance to watch the Broncos play this fall is on Sunday, October 25, when the team will hold an open practice on its home floor at the Leavey Center, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara campus. Season ticket holders are encouraged to come and pick out their reserved seats.
The SCU athletics department is offering a series of ticket specials for the 14-game home schedule. Season ticket packages start at just $50 for adults and $25 for youth and seniors. Season ticket reserved seating is new for 2009-10 and is being offered at the low price of $75 for the entire season. To purchase tickets or for more information contact 408-554-4660.