Women’s team looks toward bright season

With being picked as the preseason favorite to win the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, this has the potential to be a great year for the women’s basketball team. This is before you consider the fact that the team has all five starters returning from an NCAA Tournament team and the addition of two new assistant coaches.

With all of these factors, head coach Stephanie Flamini and her team have high aspirations for the upcoming season.

“We want the ring this year,” said senior guard Amy Steller. “We have really high expectations. We all have that one goal in mind of getting a championship this year.”

Prior to last season, the Quakers were picked sixth in the preseason ODAC poll but had an impressive regular season. They were a two seed in the ODAC tournament and made a run to the ODAC Championship game before falling to top-seeded Lynchburg College, 62-55.

Some thought the season was over, but they received the honor of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. There are only 20 at-large bids in Division III for teams that did not win their conference.

“For us to get a bid was pretty awesome,” said Flamini. “It was a testament to our scheduling, the games we won and how well we played in the conference.”

In their fifth tournament appearance, Guilford won their first round game against the University of Mount Union, 61-57. They moved on to play Thomas More College, the eventual Division III champions, where they were defeated. The Quakers ended the season with a 22-6 (13-3) record.

“Last season was one I’ll remember forever,” said senior guard Heaven Walters in an email interview. “It was such a great experience to not only make it to the championship game, but to win the first round of the NCAA was a highlight in my career at Guilford.”

The team is led by its core of four seniors Steller, Walters, guard Kate Clark and forward Anais Weatherly. Each senior has combined for many starts in their college careers.

“This year is different because it’s my last year, and everything is on the line,” said Walters. “Every drill counts, every practice counts and every game is one that I won’t get back.

“I’m realizing how important it is to do the little things and play for my fellow seniors and teammates, so that we end the year with a conference championship on our way to the (NCAA Tournament) in March.”

The team returns two All-ODAC honorees in Weatherly and junior guard Lauren Ramsey. Weatherly received First Team All-ODAC honors last season, and Ramsey received Third Team All-ODAC honors. Weatherly was also first team All-State in the college division for the North Carolina Collegiate Sports Information Association and second team All-South by D3hoops.com.

The team has also added three first-years with guard Alli Jackson, forward Addy Lemons and guard Miracle Walters, who have shown great skills that will benefit the team.

“There may be a couple of freshmen,” said Flamini. “(There is) at least one that I know is going to play. It’s all about how quickly you learn everything. Some people catch on right away. Last year, (guard) Essence Abraham was a freshman, and she caught on right away and was an impact player for us.”

Not only does the team have all five starters returning, but some key bench players are returning including, Abraham, junior center Jordyn Richardson and junior center Jordyn Brown.

The coaching staff has two new assistant coaches in Brittany Atwater and Ashley McNeely. Atwater graduated from Guilford in 2013 and was a big component in the two ODAC championships the women’s basketball team won in those seasons.

“She was the coach on the floor,” said Flamini. “She knew how to set people up to be successful. She’s the same kind of coach as she was a player.”

McNeely graduated from Washington & Jefferson College in 2012 and was a post player on the women’s basketball team.

“She has been great,” said Steller. “(She’s) been able to take post players to the side and work on something specific right there.”

Guilford received nine first-place votes and 116 points overall in the ODAC preseason poll. The reigning conference champions, Lynchburg, were voted second place. Guilford also received 24 votes in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, putting them just outside the top 25.

“Preseason polls are just predictions,” said Walters. “So it’s our job to actually pull together and make that happen.”

The Quakers will begin their season at home on Nov. 15 when they face their cross-town rival Greensboro College.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email