Returning players like LaKeisha Eaddy and Kristen McCarthy and freshman Victoria Macaulay hope to lead the women back to the NCAA Tournament.
With the return of a couple key players and the addition of an impressive recruiting class, coach Tonya Cardoza and the women’s basketball team are primed to make some noise this season.
Last year, in Cardoza’s first as coach, the Owls went 21-10 and captured an NCAA Tournament berth. However, the Cherry and White lost two forwards to graduation – leading scorer Shenita Landry and Shanea Cotton. In order for Temple to be successful, players like senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy and sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy need to help shoulder the load.
Eaddy averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 assists last year, her first season as a point guard. Despite her relative success at the new position, Eaddy said she should run the point even better this season.
“I definitely think being able to be the point guard last year will help me out better this year,” Eaddy said. “I understand the position a lot better, and the coaches have really helped me out a lot.”
“Last year, she was a little uncomfortable with [playing point guard] at first,” Cardoza added. “But, once she saw all the success she had with it, she saw that she was growing from that role.”
For all the experience Eaddy brings to the table, McCarthy brings an equal amount of youth. As a freshman last year, McCarthy started 20 of 31 games and averaged 8.6 points per game and 4.3 rebounds per game. McCarthy’s immediate impact garnered her All Atlantic Ten Rookie Team and Big 5 Rookie of the Year honors. Given her aptitude at scoring in bunches, McCarthy will likely be asked to absorb some of the scoring loss that the departure of Landry created.
Down low, freshman Victoria Macaulay will likely start the season at center. Macaulay, a 6-foot-3-inch player from Staten Island, N.Y., brings a physical presence to the Temple frontcourt that few in the A-10 can match.
“My role is to dominate and be the center for this team,” Macaulay said. “I’m like 6-3, so I can block shots. I’m a big person. Pass it down to me low. I might pass it back, or I might score.”
“Victoria is probably going to be our starting center,” Cardoza added. “I think she’s way ahead of where any of us thought she would be, as well as her teammates.”
While Macaulay brings size to the paint, playing in the post will be a learning experience all year for the Owls. With junior center Marli Bennett the only returning big man with significant experience, numerous players will have to step up, Cardoza said.
“We have four post players,” Cardoza said. “All four of them are going to have to contribute in some sort of way. It might be one person playing the defense, one person doing the scoring, one person rebounding.”
Having an athletic team will help make up for some of the growing pains down low, Cardoza said.
“Our athleticism [is our biggest strength],” Cardoza said. “From one to 12, they can all get down the floor. They’re just really, really athletic. They like each other, and they’re unselfish.”
The Cherry and White have an impressive out-of-conference schedule this year, with the Duke Blue Devils, Auburn Tigers, Illinois Fighting Illini and Villanova Wildcats all coming to North Broad Street. Throw in trips to East Brunswick, N.J., to play Rutgers and to Tallahassee, Fla., to face Florida State, as well as the always crucial Xavier game, and the Owls will have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves this year.
“[A tough schedule] definitely helps,” Cardoza said. “Just facing some of the top teams and getting that experience under your belt. We face off against Xavier our first conference game, so it’ll be good that we’ve already faced top competition.”
Kyle Gauss can be reached at email@example.com.