GW Women’s Basketball 2016-2017 Preview
By: Joey Mamlin
The Jennifer Rizzotti era begins this season as the team looks to move forward following the departures of several key pieces of the program’s recent success. Coming off its straight Atlantic 10 championship, the Colonials will look to fill the void left by the team’s former leading rebounder Jonquel Jones, and starting point guard Lauren Chase. While several key players departed at the end of last season, there are plenty of girls on the team looking to take on a larger role. Senior Caira Washington will look to anchor the frontcourt and maintain GW’s reputation of being a physically dominant squad, while Senior Hannah Schaible and Sophomore Mei-Lyn Bautista will look to run the backcourt for the Colonials.
Last year’s A-10 Championship squad finished 26-7 overall while going 13-3 in conference play and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In Head Coach Jennifer Rizzotti’s first year at the helm (taking the place of Jonathan Tsipis, who departed for the University of Wisconsin this offseason) the team will look to continue their success in the Atlantic-10 and potentially make it back to the tournament. Rizzotti played college basketball at the University of Connecticut and was a member of the 1995 national championship team there. Rizzotti has been coaching at the University of Hartford since 1999, and has twice been named American East coach of the year.
The Colonials will face an extremely tough non-conference slate, with games against #14 Syracuse (last season’s national runner up) as a part of the Gulf Coast Showcase, #11 Stanford (went to the elite eight last season), as well as tough games vs Villanova and Princeton. A10 play will of course bring a home and home vs Dayton.
The team should be much more balanced than in the past, where the team would feed the ball to Jones, who is now playing in the WNBA.
Caira Washington, Forward
-After three years of playing as a supporting big man, this will be the year where Washington is expected to anchor the Colonial’s defense in the post. She will be the defensive anchor for this team.
Kelli Prange, Forward
-With good size at 6’5” Prange will look to solidify the frontcourt alongside Caira Washington. Prange was stuck behind Jonquel Jones for two years but now will be her time to thrive. Our pick to lead the team in points scored.
Mei-Lyn Bautista, Guard
-After playing good minutes in her Freshman season, Bautista looks like she will run the point for this GW team after impressing from the 3 point line last season.
Brianna Cummings, Guard
-Standing at 5’10” Cummings add some good size to the starting backcourt, likely to play as a swingman. Cummings made a big jump last season so look for her to continue her strong play.
Hannah Schaible, Guard
-Schaible looks to serve as a solid veteran presence for this young backcourt, in addition to serving as a solid perimeter defender. Schaible is one of the best rebounding guards in the A10 if not the nation. Comparable to Joe McDonald’s role for the men’s team the past few years.
Names to Know on the bench:
Lexi Martins, Forward
-Martins comes to GW as a graduate transfer from Lehigh, where she led the nation last season in double-doubles last season. She is expected to be the first big off the bench and should see 20+ minutes a night.
Shannon Cranshaw, Guard
-After strong freshman and sophomore years, Cranshaw took a step back last season. She should be the first guard off the bench, but we will have to see.
Camila Tapias, Guard
-Tapias battled with Bautista for the starting PG job in the offseason and should get minutes to run the offense.
The Verdict is Still Out on these Players:
Harper Birdsong, Guard
Mia Farmer, Guard
Kendall Bresee, Guard
Kelsi Mahoney, Guard
Jada Matthews, Forward
Who is Gone?:
Jonquel Jones, Forward (Drafted 6th overall by the LA Sparks, traded to Connecticut Suns)
Lauren Chase, Guard (Now a graduate student at GW)
DeLacy Anderson, Forward (Graduated)
Alexis Chandler, Forward (Graduated)
Aaliyah Brown, Guard (Graduated)
Coming into this season expectations are unclear for this GW squad, especially after losing two starters and the best player in school history. In a bit of a transitional year the Colonials should win around 20 games and most likely miss the NCAA tournament, coming in 3rd in the Atlantic 10.