Women’s basketball prepare for next season

After losses in the NCAA Tournament, coaches Fran Dunphy and Tonya Cardoza have started assembling their lineups and schedules for November.

For the first time in her career at Temple, women’s basketball coach Tonya Cardoza will not be able to rely on senior guard LaKeisha Eaddy. Eaddy, along with seniors Jasmine Stone and Kristie Watkins-Day, will never don an Owls uniform again after the team’s loss to Connecticut in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Cardoza will enter the offseason focused on replacing the production of the three seniors, especially Eaddy and Stone, who combined to start 54 games this season. Luckily for Cardoza, the Owls have a strong core to build around for the 2010-2011 season.

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TTN File Photo/Anna Zhilkova Sophomore forward Kristen McCarthy shoots earlier this season.

Guards
Sophomore BJ Williams should see her playing time increase next season. Williams, a 5-foot-7-inch true point guard from Gwynn Oak, Md., averaged 5.8 points per game and finished second on the team with 2.7 assists per game, despite only averaging 22.3 minutes per game. Williams received eight starts during the season and did not disappoint, averaging 11.3 points and 5.6 assists in those games.

Junior Shaqwedia Wallace, who started 15 of the team’s first 16 games before coming off the bench for the rest of the season, finished second on the team in scoring at 10.6 points per game. Wallace started the season off strong, scoring 46 points in the team’s first two games. She came on strong toward the end of the year as well, averaging 13 points per game in the Atlantic Ten Conference Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. If Wallace can remain consistent, she could find her way into the starting rotation again.

Cardoza will have the added bonus of a couple of transfers finally becoming eligible again. Junior Reese Fields, who saw action as a sophomore after transferring from De Anza Community College in Cupertino, Calif., missed the entire 2009-2010 season with a knee injury. Junior Shey Peddy will be eligible next season after transferring from Wright State. Peddy was a member of the Horizon League Second Team squad in 2008-2009 after averaging 12.1 points and four assists per game. She was also named to the All-Defensive Team. During her freshman year at WSU, Peddy averaged 16.7 points and 3.2 steals per game en route to being named the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year. She was also named to the first-team All-Conference squad.

Forwards
Sophomore Kristen McCarthy, a first-team A-10 Conference and A-10 Tournament selection, will return for the Owls next season after leading the team with 14.8 points per game. McCarthy especially stepped it up in conference play, averaging 18.3 points per game in A-10 contests. McCarthy forever put her name in the record books on Feb. 13, when she scored 42 points against Charlotte. That total was the highest ever by a Temple player and the second highest ever for an A-10 player. The team co-captain also averaged six rebounds per game, good for second on the team.

Junior Marli Bennett started all 34 games for the Owls this season and averaged 6.4 points and five rebounds per game. Bennett, who is more of a natural small forward, was forced to play power forward all season long out of necessity. Bennett showed efficient range this season, shooting 35.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team.

Freshman Natasha Thames saw significant playing time in her first year on campus and averaged 4.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while starting in nine contests. Thames averaged 17.6 minutes per game while shooting 41.9 percent from the field. With Stone graduating, Thames should see her playing time increase and might find her way into the starting five.

Centers
Freshman Victoria Macaulay showed flashes of brilliance this season despite inconsistent playing time. Macaulay scored 10 points against Duke on 80 percent shooting before scoring 12 points against Pennsylvania on Jan. 23. Cardoza has said that Macaulay will be a dominant player in the A-10 by her junior year, but she needs to bulk up before that can happen.

Sophomore Brittany Lewis, a transfer from Virginia Tech, should compete for significant minutes next year. Lewis averaged three points and 1.8 rebounds per game for the Hokies, despite averaging a mere 8.5 minutes per game. Lewis scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds, both career highs, against Southern Methodist in 2008.

Schedule
The 2010-2011 schedule hasn’t been released yet, but the Owls have a lot of non-conference spots to fill. They completed home-and-homes with Illinois, Auburn, Hampton, Duke, Florida State and Dartmouth this season. The Hartford Hawks, who made the Tournament this season, will come to Philadelphia to complete a home-and-home. The Owls can expect to play Rutgers next season, as the two squads have played each other the last nine years. The Owls will face Big 5 rival, along with former Temple player Lindsay Kimmel, on the road next season. Temple will also face five Mid-American Conference opponents as a result of the football team’s conference alignment.

A-10 wise, the Owls will likely see Dayton and A-10 Champion Xavier at the Liacouras Center next season. The Owls will travel to face Charlotte and Massachusetts.

Kyle Gauss can be reached at kyle.gauss@temple.edu.

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