Women’s squad gets new look, new feel

With Dawn Staley out and Tonya Cardoza in, the Owls will be a lot different.

Excuse the women’s basketball team if it looks a little lost out on the court this season.

Gone are former eight-year coach Dawn Staley, guard and Atlantic Ten Conference Most Improved Player Ashley Morris and center Lady Comfort.

LaKeisha Eaddy
Junior Guard

In their places will be 14-year Connecticut assistant coach Tonya Cardoza, junior guard LaKeisha Eaddy and a possible six-woman rotation in the paint.

“I think the fact that they didn’t win it will make them even more hungry, and the fact that they’re underdogs,” Cardoza said. “Right now, a lot of people are not picking them to do very well because of a new coach and not having a true point guard. That’s just more fuel to the fire.”

In a preseason coaches’ and media poll, Temple was selected to finish fourth in the conference, behind last year’s A-10 champions Xavier as well as George Washington and Charlotte.

Much of that low ranking, as Cardoza said, is due to her taking over on the Liacouras Center sidelines for Staley, who finished her coaching career at Temple with a 172-80 record, six NCAA Tournament appearances and four A-10 titles.

Cardoza’s professional coaching record?


Granted, she did serve under Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, helping the Huskies win 465 games and five NCAA titles during her time in Storrs, Conn., and developing former guards and current WNBA players Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird.

She’ll need to use that specialty knowledge of guards to help Eaddy transition to the point, a position she’s never played before.

Shenita Landry Senior Forward

“I don’t really feel any pressure,” Eaddy said. “I mean, it’s a new position for me. I’m learning a lot of new things. I’ve never really played the point guard here or in high school really, so it’s a learning experience. I think I’m adjusting pretty well to it.

“Coach Cardoza’s definitely helping me, [and so is] the whole coaching staff. They’re encouraging me and giving me the confidence that I need to try to run this team at the point guard spot,” she added.
But it’s not just the point guard position that remains up in the air entering the season. With forwards Shanea Cotton and Jasmine Stone academically ineligible for the fall semester, senior forward Shenita Landry will most likely take over for Comfort to start the year.

“I have some ideas [as far as the starting lineup], but it all depends on how some things go. Right now, we’re still a little up in the air,” Cardoza said. “Right now, the point guard situation is a tough situation because we don’t really have a point guard that has any experience.”

Regardless who starts, the players will be looking at a revamped offensive scheme. Unlike Staley, who emphasized ball control and focused more on the defensive side of the court, Cardoza plans to open up the options.

“I think this team is a really defensive team. Dawn really stressed defense, and I’m stressing more offensive stuff,” Cardoza said. “So I think that’s still something that we have to work on every day, getting them to understand that I want them to shoot. I want them to score. It’s not just pass, pass, pass, pass and one person. I want everybody involved. Right now, that’s probably the biggest adjustment on the offensive end. But defensively, I can’t ask for anything more.”

The Owls will be tested early and often this season, with five games scheduled against preseason Top 25 teams. Temple will play Auburn, Rutgers and Florida State in three of its first seven games, while match-ups against Duke and Xavier fall later in the season.

It’s safe to say the Owls will know what direction the season – and the team – are heading in rather quickly.

“Everybody’s playing basketball. If you’re on your game, and they’re off their game, anything can happen,” Landry said. “No matter where we stand, I just want to win.”

Jennifer Reardon can be reached at jennifer.reardon@temple.edu>.