With two and a half weeks until the Hofstra women’s basketball team jump starts its 2009/2010 season at home against Buffalo, head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey has a good problem on her hands trying to determine the best starting lineup to use since so many players have been stepping up to the challenge in pre-season practices.
“Can I start more than five,” joked Coach Kilburn-Steveskey after this morning’s two-hour practice of how it will be tough to decide who begins each game and who comes off the bench.
The main reason behind the uncertainty of who will comprise Hofstra’s starting lineup when the season tips off against Buffalo on Nov. 16 is the stellar play of freshman forward Shante Evans, who was ranked 54th best player in the class of 2009 and the ninth-best forward by ESPN/HoopGurlz. While Evans is used to playing the power forward position, Coach Kilburn-Steveskey is contemplating slotting the 6-0 West Chester, Pa. native in as a small forward to bolster the inside game for senior center Jess Fuller and 6’3 sophomore Joelle Connelly. Whether it is starting or coming off the bench as the sixth man, Evans will be a major focal point of the Pride offense.
A freshman stepping up large on the defensive end has been guard Candace Bond. Kilburn-Steveskey noted that the 5’10 Bond has been playing hard-nosed defense in practice against veteran senior guard Sam Brigham, which will serve as positive preparation for both players in 2009/2010. “Candace Bond is going to probably be one of the best defenders that ever came through here,” said Kilburn-Steveskey “She is not backing down.”
Evans and Bond were apart of a recruiting class that ranked 41st in the nation by ESPN/HoopGurlz. However the third member of that heralded recruiting class Lindsey Watson, an Orlando, Fla. native, has left the team for personal reasons.
Coach Kilburn-Steveskey is anticipating deploying an eight to nine-deep lineup this season that will aim to run the floor. The up-tempo style of play is designed to bring out the talents of red-shirt sophomore point guard Candice Bellocchio, who is primed and ready for the 2009/2010 season after missing the final 23 games last season with an injury. “Candice can run a system but she is also really good in the open court, so were trying to have some opportunities where she is getting that,” said Kilburn-Steveskey.
The Pride had a team scrimmage on Monday where sophomore guard Asia Jenkins and Evans shined particularly well in executing the offense, according to Kilburn-Steveskey. Hofstra will get its first chance to go against another team when the Pride play a scrimmage this Sunday at Long Island University-Brooklyn. The Pride are preparing for a rigorous non-conference schedule that includes a Nov. 27 game at defending national champion Connecticut and tilts with Richmond and Southern Methodist, both WNIT participants last season. The Pride were picked to finish 7th in the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Poll.