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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Women’s basketball runs strong

In the midst of competing for crucial Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament seeding, the Quakers are receiving major contributions from first-years who Dick Vitale would call a few real “diaper dandies” – in other words, “sensational freshmen.” Brittany Atwater, Brenda Hayes, Vanessa Johnson, Morgan Weeks, Shelly Barker, Jessica Brown, and LeAnne Birdsall make up this year’s cast of rookies.

“Even though we’ve never had four seniors, I still expected this freshmen class to step in the way they have,” said Head Coach Stephanie Flamini.

With so much experience coming from seniors Jasmine Wood, Ann Seufer, Alexa Williams and Joclyn Terry, Flamini went on to say, “Having seven freshmen on the team gives us much-needed depth. We have a freshman to fill every position.”

This talented group of freshmen is headlined by the play of Atwater and Hayes who have combined for 121 points, 72 steals, and 32 assist on the season.

The Quakers are coming off a recent win where Atwater had 12 points and 3 assists.

“I expected to be a contributor on the team this year,” said Atwater. “That was one of the main reasons I came here.”

According to Flamini, Atwater has received praise for her athleticism and extremely aggressive defensive play.

“She goes really hard to the basket,” Flamini commented.

Hayes is another guard who the coach described as “very skilled with a lot of quickness.”

Averaging three points and 11.8 minutes a game, her distinctive Mohawk-like hairstyle is almost as flashy as her quick moves around defenders.

Giving first-years substantial minutes early in their careers can often do one of two things: pressure a player to where they try to play above their abilities, resulting in sloppy play, or give an already cocky freshman an even bigger ego. Flamini insists that neither case is true when it comes to her first-years.

“The upperclassmen have really taken this young group under their wing,” said Flamini. “We don’t really even consider them freshmen anymore because of that extended playing time.”

Accompanying Atwater and Hayes are Birdsall and Barker. Birdsall is a pure post player, which can be unusual for a first-year. Birdsall and Barker have combined for 85 rebounds and 51 points this season.

Flamini said Birdsall has greatly improved this season, and has outstanding box-out skills. According to Flamini, Barker has also improved despite changing positions during season. Flamini credits Barker’s improvement to her intelligence on the court and her hard work in practice.

With seven of the Quakers’ last nine games on the road, the girls will have to be clicking on all cylinders in order to end the regular season on a high note.

“I like our chances the rest of the way a lot,” said Atwater. “We have a chance of being one of the top teams and I know we can do it.”

With the madness of March looming in coming weeks, the future looks all too bright for this year’s group of freshmen and the women’s program.

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