2007-08 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW
11/13/07...The 2007-08 season will usher in some key changes for the Pitt Johnstown Lady Cat basketball program. Not only will the Lady Cats play their first WVIAC schedule, but they will also do it with a brand new head coach. Former Northern Michigan University All-American and Shippensburg University assistant coach Sasha Palmer was named head women’s basketball coach over the summer and will lead Pitt Johnstown into the WVIAC.
Coach Palmer, a native of Watertown, WI, knows her Lady Cats must take on a difficult schedule without four of their five starters from a year ago, including the team’s top two scorers and Second Team All-WVIAC selections Jessica Zapf (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Allison Krischer (Johnstown, Pa.), who were lost to graduation.
As a result, Coach Palmer will rely on her returning upper classmen and incoming players to fill the void. Big things are expected from red-shirt junior center Krista Britcher (Johnstown, Pa.) and junior guard/forward Lindsay Cale (Hummelstown, Pa.). Britcher averaged 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds per game last season, while Cale, this year’s only returning starter, was Pitt Johnstown’s third leading scorer (10.6 ppg.). She also averaged 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
“We need Britcher to dominate in the post this season”, Coach Palmer said. “She must increase both her scoring and rebounding numbers if we’re going to have success. With Cale being our only returning starter, I’m expecting her to take on a large leadership role. She also has to increase her numbers. Her competitive instinct and her leadership abilities will be counted on heavily.”
Along with Britcher and Cale, senior guard/forward Jill Maurer (Johnstown, Pa.) will be counted on to provide leadership and competitiveness. “I need Jill to step up her game and produce at both the three and four positions,” Coach Palmer said about Maurer, who averaged 1.5 points and 1.4 rebounds in 2006-07.
Coach Palmer also thinks junior guard/forward Kristin Irwin (Bellefonte, Pa.) (1.3 ppg. and 1.5 rpg. in 2006-07) could be an exciting player to watch as she gains more confidence on the court. “Irwin is going to surprise a lot of people. We need 2007-08 to be Kristin’s breakout year,” said Coach Palmer.
Rounding out this year’s returning players are senior forward Chasity Ingram (Johnstown, Pa.) and sophomore guard Chrissy Forster (Lewisberry, Pa.). In limited action last season, Ingram, who transferred to Pitt Johnstown from Pitt-Titusville prior to the 2006-07 season, tallied nearly one point and 1.3 rebounds per game, while Forster played in 15 games and averaged about one point per game from the point guard spot. “Ingram and Forster have both come a long way since the first few days of practice,” Coach Palmer said. "I’m excited to see what Chasity can do on the court. Forster sees the floor very well and is eager to continue learning the point guard position.”
Qiuana Brown (Monroeville, Pa.), who red-shirted with an injury her freshman season, will make her debut. Brown will provide depth and additional scoring and rebounding at either of the forward positions.
More talent was added to the guard spot when Kaitlin Urban (Johnstown, Pa.) transferred to Pitt Johnstown from Bloomsburg. Urban, a great shooter with good instincts, is expected to give the Lady Cats valuable minutes and solid numbers.
Coach Palmer also has a pair of talented freshman on this year’s roster in Sheena Aden (Sandy Lake, Pa.) and Andrea Dalton (Washington, Pa.). Aden, a three-time First Team All-State player, holds the Mercer County and District 10 All-Time Scoring Record with 2,421 career points. Aden also had 812 rebounds, dished out 491 assists and made 475 steals, while Dalton was a three-time All-Section 8 AAAA WPIAL. Dalton averaged 10.0 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game throughout her high school career.
“Aden has great ball-handling skills and can get to the basket at will. We expect her to learn the system and make an impact at the point guard position,” said Coach Palmer. “Dalton has good size for the wing. She’s also a strong player inside. We’re looking for her to help inside and from the perimeter.”
Another freshman, Kayla Brandle (Johnstown, Pa.), earned a roster spot as a walk-on after playing for the lady Cat volleyball team in the fall. At 5"10", Brandle should provide additional depth to Pitt Johnstown's inside game.
Coach Palmer and her Lady Cats open the 2007-08 season at the Clarion Classic on November 17-18. The Lady Cats will open the WVIAC schedule at Seton Hill on November 28, before hosting their home opener against WVIAC rival Ohio Valley (WV) on December 4.
If the Lady Cats are going to make a run at the program’s 17th NCAA Tournament bid, a new head coach and a group of largely untested, but talented, players must navigate a difficult schedule that includes a full WVIAC schedule for the first time.