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Finding Strength in Numbers : Women’s Teams Will Go to Bench With Confidence

Team depth will be of extra importance to several San Diego County women’s basketball coaches this season.

“We’re taking 10 to 12 players to each game,” San Diego State Coach Ernest Riggins said, “and if we take them, we want them to be ready to play.”

Said Kathy Marpe, University of San Diego coach: “We have lots of talent on the bench. They will see a lot of playing time.”

Judy Malone, coach of UC San Diego, said the same applies to her team.

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“This year, we have a chance to do pretty well,” Malone said. “I think we’re a better team with better overall depth.”

A look at each team:

SAN DIEGO STATE

1987-88 records: 21-10, 12-8 conference.

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1987-88 Conference Finish: Fourth in Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. (Now Big West)

Chana Perry, a 6-5 senior All-American forward who was the conference co-player of the year last season, returns to lead the Aztecs.

“It’s going to be an interesting year for us,” Riggins said. “We think we can start our first five with anyone in the country.”

Deep talent should enable SDSU--ranked 20th in the Associated Press preseason poll--to win games in which the Aztecs sputtered last year. “This year we’re in better position to close out those (close) games,” he said.

Riggins said the team had good size, quickness and speed and would be good in the transition.

“They’ll have a fast pace, they’ll up-tempo the ballgames more,” Riggins said. “This year we have the personnel to run more, use a full-court defense, do more trapping and technique-type things. Our speed is conducive to that.”

Other top returners are seniors Brooke Meadows (forward/center) and Stephanie Lamar (guard) and sophomore Dee Dee Davis (guard).

Newcomers who will make an immediate impact are junior college transfers Stefanie Massie and Julie Evans, both junior starters, and freshman Marcie Heaps.

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Riggins said the conference is talented but says the Aztecs can stay with the best.

“I think we can win the conference, that’s our goal,” he said. “It all depends on our start and if we can get five people to play good defense for us.”

UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO

1987-88 records: 13-6, 9-5 conference.

1987-88 Conference Finish: Third in West Coast Athletic Conference.

The Titans return six players, including three starters. Leaders in what Marpe describes as “more of a finesse rather than power game” are junior guards Candida Echeverria and Paula Mascari and junior center Cristi English.

“We’re trying to recruit more agile athletes,” Marpe said. “In the past we’ve gone for size and bulk.”

This is a young team, with no seniors, three sophomores, seven freshmen and four juniors. Newcomers include forward/center Lynda Jones, guard Julie Doria and guard Debbie Gollnick.

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“We’ll be looking for offensive opportunities,” Marpe said, “but we want to keep the turnovers down. This year, we’ll play a more controlled game and try to force the ball more on defense.”

While Marpe said the Tritons can have an impact in the conference, beating preseason favorite and defending champion Gonzaga will be difficult.

“I think we have a chance,” Marpe said. “It just depends on how our girls mature. There are lots of question marks.”

U.S. INTERNATIONAL

1987-88 record: 16-8.

Division I Independent

Guard/forward Sonya Carter, now a senior, did it all for USIU last year, leading the team with 20.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4 blocked shots a game, and adding 87 assists and 43 steals. Carter, working mostly inside, was the nation’s 40th-leading scorer.

Coach Cassie Macias’ team shot 47.5% from the field and 69.9% from the free-throw line. Four players averaged more than 10 points a game and USIU averaged 75 points while giving up 71.1.

Other top returning players are senior guard Yvonne Sanchez, senior forward Vanessa Johnson and senior center/forward Amy Hillenbrand. Promising newcomers are senior forward Fonda DeCree, a transfer from Oregon, and junior forward/center Louise Seaman, who last year played on the English Junior National Team.

UC SAN DIEGO

1987-88 record: 11-14.

Division III Independent

Coach Judy Malone says there’s little doubt her team will be on the run this season.

“We’ve had a set offense in the past, but this year, we have all the ingredients to run,” she said. “We’re real quick and can get the ball up the court.”

Senior guard Tracey Ragatz is the Tritons’ top returning scorer. She averaged 12 points a game and made 55.8% of her 3-point attempts, best in the nation among Division III players last year.

Other returning players are senior center Jill Koster, junior point guard Nancy Caparaz, senior guard Beth Koenig and junior forward Michele Leonher.

Top newcomers are freshman guard Kathleen Alvarez, junior forward/center Cathy Fitzpatrick, a transfer from the University of Connecticut, and freshman forward/center Cari Young.

“This year we’re more well-rounded and more experienced,” Malone said.

POINT LOMA NAZARENE COLLEGE

1987-88 records: 22-11, 7-5 conference.

1987-88 Conference Finish: Fourth in Golden State Athletic Conference.

The Crusaders’ biggest problem is the departure of last year’s top two rebounders.

“We’ll be weak in trying to defend the front,” Coach Bill Olin said.

Returning are senior forward Shannon Anderson, who averaged 15.4 points a game last season and was named to the all-conference team, and senior guards Shelly Stokes and Ann Duffy.

Newcomers are guard Camille Armijo, forward Alicia Harasty and center Melinda O’Brien, all freshmen.

Olin will count on consistent production from Anderson--"She should have a great year,” Olin said--and the shooting ability of Armijo in the backcourt.

“We have more depth in the backcourt and good perimeter shooting,” Olin said.


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