The Caltech Women's basketball team enters the 2012-2013 season with a ton of promise as they return 75 percent of the scoring from last year's team while bringing in an exciting group of seven first-years.
For the first time in years, Caltech boasts a very deep squad that has blended a very experienced group of returners, who played a lot of minutes together, with a group of first-years who have tremendous versatility.
The team loses Teri Juarez and Shannon Mohler from last year's team. Juarez led the team in rebounds, assists, and steals while being the "heart and soul" of the 2011-2012 squad. Tenth year head coach Sandra Marbut said, "I am confident that if taking charges was an official statistic, then Teri would have led the country in it."
However, the lone senior on the current team, Sarah Wright, has stepped into the role of team leader. Coach Marbut called her "the foundation the rest of the team can look to. She is going to be able to point her teammates in the right direction and inspire them to get better."
Rachel Hess and Marlyn Moore are the two returning juniors captains. Hess was converted to point guard last season, resulting in drastically improved ball-handling skills. She has an amazing pull up jumper with the ability to stop on a dime and elevate to get a clean look at the rim. Moore is a great shooter that has worked to improve her range in the offseason. She has also added the ability to post someone up.
Paige Logan is another junior who returns to the squad after missing last season due to injury. Logan is the only classic center on the roster as she has the ability to play with her back to the basket and defend the rim. Her ability to grab rebounds was missed on last year's squad.
Brigit Connor came back this year in phenomenal shape. Coach Marbut said "she came in with a purpose to play. She is going to earn a lot of minutes just based on hard work. She may only be a sophomore, but she has played more minutes than many juniors in the country and she is going to contribute a great amount to this team."
Junior Tiffany Huang will earn minutes this year as she worked hard in the offseason to get better. During her sophomore campaign she saw time as a reserve, with solid practices in preseason and continued effort Huang could see increased minutes this year.
"The biggest challenge will be meshing all of the talent together," said Marbut. "The incoming group has a lot of talent and they're going to be in the mix, with that said they're freshman and there are going to be mistakes, but ultimately the team is going to be much better."
Stephanie Wong was named All-Day league and first team All-CIF Division 2A while in high school. She is a versatile player who can shoot, drive, and rebound. "She is someone who is just a flat out producer, a workhorse in all the good ways," said Marbut.
The team adds two ladies over six feet to go with Logan as Kristin Anderson and Grace Leisham enter the fray. Anderson is more of a finesse player who likes to spot up, but can still play with her back to the basket, and was named all-league in high school. Leisham was the captain of a state championship team in high school and can play as a very talented forward who can face the basket.
The team also adds Esther Du who is a tremendous ball handler. She may only be 5'1" but her height does not get in her way as she uses her speed and savvy to command the floor, a true point guard, something the team has lacked in recent seasons.
"Coming from Troy high school, Du brings a wealth of experience from high-pressure situations," Marbut said. "Her adjustment period from a high powered high school program to NCAA Division III could be quick."
Ann Chen is a crafty ball handler who just finds ways to get to the basket. She earned Westlake Invitational All-Tournament honors in high school and can be a key contributor at guard for the Beavers.
Marbut said, "The most exciting thing about this talented group of first year players is their potential once they gain some college seasoning, what they are going to look like as Juniors"
However, the present looks pretty good too. Marbut continued, "For the first time in memory we are two-deep at every position with players that can score. We have options and possibilities that we did not have in the past. Last year we only had nine players on the team, this year we have eight or nine starters."
If Caltech can get the chemistry right and the first-years can step in and contribute immediately then there could be more winning in the Braun Gym this year.
Captains Sarah Wright, Marlyn Moore and Rachel Hess Talk About the Upcoming Season --