LYNDON CENTER, Vt. — Coming off a respectable 11-13 season in 2010-11, including a mark of 7-7 in the North Atlantic Conference, the Lyndon women's basketball program finds itself poised to take another step toward competing with some of the NAC's elite programs.
Bolster by the return of All-NAC First Team performer - and former Rookie of the Year – Donna Lawson, a junior, and the backcourt tandem of seniors Naomi White and Danielle LaFont, the Hornets could very well give the opposition fits in the 2011-12 season.
"Our goal is to get back to the playoffs and get beyond the quarterfinals," said sixth-year Head Coach Vinnie Maloney. "Talent-wise I think we can play with the best teams in the conference, but the big piece now is to get everyone together. We several players who have a lot of talent, but we need to figure out where they're going to fit and go from there."
Helping Lawson on the front line this season will be fellow Lake Region Union grad Shelby Budziak, a 5-foot-11 sophomore forward and 5-9 Twinfield Union alum Dannika Dobrowski, a freshman, who can play either inside or away from the basket. Sophomore holdovers Morgan Diltz, Amanda Martin and Sarah Adams will also see minutes up front along with 5-10 freshman Brit Geoffrey.
Perhaps the biggest question that needs to be answered is who will start in the Hornet backcourt. Despite the return of LaFont and the possibility of White being moved into the off-guard position, the remainder of the Lyndon backcourt will be filled with first-year players.
"The point guard duties will be filled by Chelsea Watson, a sophomore, and freshman Jasmin Amaral," said Maloney. "Chelsea has taken over as the team leader and we are going to look to her for a lot. Beyond Chelsea and Jasmin, Emily Gray will get significant playing time. She's a good shooter who can also create her own shot."
With the increase in depth and talent, Maloney feels he can do more, especially in a season where the Hornets will not have the luxury of playing 12 non-conference games before hitting the always-tough NAC slate. Colby-Sawyer and New England Colleges have been added to the league, so the conference schedule now begins in early December as opposed to its customary start in January.
"Well have an opportunity to press more, we'll just have to see how things play out," said Maloney. "The guards in our conference are pretty strong and it will be tough to press. Good teams usually beat good pressure. We'll also look to run more. Rebound, outlet the ball and get it to Chelsea or Jasmin, who distribute the ball well.
"With the expanded conference season, it's been difficult," he continued. "We're already looking ahead at matchups and it's only one month into the season. Doing scouting work in practice has been the biggest shift thus far, but we realize this season's going to be a big learning experience for sure."