CAL STATE FULLERTON WOMEN’S BASKETBALL PREVIEW : Titans Hope to Keep Pace With Bradshaw
The Cal State Fullerton women’s basketball team has had a nationally prominent player each of the past two seasons.
Last season, center Koko Lahanas led the nation in scoring, but the Titans could do no better than a 14-15 record. The year before, Autumn Hollyfield was the nation’s top three-point shooter, but Fullerton was only 5-22.
The Titans have another promising player this season in senior guard Shayla Bradshaw. But again the question becomes whether the supporting cast will be able to measure up.
Bradshaw, in her fourth year as a starter, averaged 17 points as a junior, 16 as a sophomore and slightly below 12 as a freshman. She led the team in three-point field goals last year and has shot 36% in three seasons.
“We’re going to rely a lot on Shayla this year for leadership,” Coach Debbie Ayres said. “We’ve never looked at her as a go-to player to score a lot of points, and scoring has never been that important to her, but she might move a little more into that role this year as a senior. Regardless, she’ll definitely be a stabilizing factor for us.”
Bradshaw has scored 1,247 points at Fullerton, placing her seventh among the school’s top career scorers. Genia Miller is first with 2,415.
Ayres is pleased by the way Bradshaw has improved each season. “This year she seems to be really enjoying the enthusiasm of the new players,” Ayres said. “We’re expecting more improvement.”
The team’s overall success will depend heavily on those new players, and Ayres has more depth than in her three previous seasons.
A good recruiting year helped.
“Last year, because of injuries, we played virtually the whole season relying almost exclusively on six players,” Ayres said. “That’s a lot to ask.”
The newcomers include transfers Julia Allen and Kathy Hankee. Allen is a 6-foot forward who played on a national community college championship team last season at WestArk College. The Ft. Smith, Ark., community college lost only twice in the two seasons Allen played there. Hankee is a point guard who played at College of San Mateo.
“Allen is a winner, and she communicates that to the other players every day in practice,” Ayres said.
Several freshmen also are expected to have an immediate impact. That group includes guard Rhonda Anderson from Gahr High in Artesia, forward Lee Moulin from Brea Olinda’s three-time State championship team, guard Andrea Thieme from Alameda High and guard Dee Braxton from Lynwood Calvary Chapel High.
Another freshman, 6-1 center Erin Whiteside from Littleton, Colo., will miss the season because of a knee injury in preseason workouts.
Kari Kron (6-2) is the likely replacement for Lahanas at center after sitting out last season as a medical redshirt with a back injury. That injury kept her from practicing with the team all season.
The only other part-time starter back from last year is 5-11 junior Kim Cram, who averaged only two points as a sophomore.
The Titans finished seventh in the Big West Conference last season with an 8-10 record, but reached the semifinals of the postseason tournament before losing to eventual champion UC Irvine, 69-67.
A seventh-place finish this season would leave the Titans out of the tournament. The new Big West format advances only six teams to the tournament in Reno. That heightened competition is not lost on Ayres, whose teams are 27-56 at Fullerton.
“The pressure on the regular season increases tremendously based on that,” Ayres said. “Just finishing in the top six will be a challenge with the conference stronger this year than it was last season.”