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South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will open the 2006-07 season Sunday afternoon with a non-conference bout against the University of Great Falls Lady Argonauts at the King Center in Rapid City
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- The South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team will open the 2006-07 season Sunday afternoon with a non-conference bout against the University of Great Falls Lady Argonauts at the King Center in Rapid City.
While the game marks the beginning of the season for the Lady Hardrockers, Great Falls began their campaign in early October, playing some exhibition games in Canada.
“This will be their fifth game, so that will be an advantage for them,” said Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman of the Argos, as they also play Black Hills State Saturday. “I really don’t know much at all. They have a new coach and they have several new players --- some have transferred in and some have transferred out. The only time I will be able to make a connection on that team is when they play Black Hills State (Saturday night).”
The Argos will be under the director of first-year head coach Shawn Coffin. His team is made up of somewhat of a mixed group of players, having returned a few but also having a lot of fresh faces. They roster two seniors, four juniors, three sophomores and eight freshmen.
The Argos top returnee is 5-foot-7-inch junior Laura Keaster (Belt, Mont), who led the team last year in scoring, averaging 16.9 points a game. Another strong player is freshman transfer Sarah Stubbs (5-7) from the University of Montana –Western. She is a strong shooting guard and makes for a nice compliment to Keaster. Add in the experience of 5-10 forward Meghan Schwantes (senior from Great Falls Mont.) and 6-0 post Jessica Smith (senior from Bozeman, Mont.) and the Argos seem to be a complete squad. Schwantes had a breakout season a year ago for Great Falls and Smith proved to be a good fit to the Argos’ system after transferring from Wichita State.
The rest of the squad is made up mostly of underclassmen, with most listed as guards at the lineup. As a team, the Argo finished 7-23 a year ago. They are in a rebuilding season, and their schedule has them playing 12 teams that made the NAIA National Tournament last year.
Felderman said she was concerned less with what the Argos will do Sunday but rather with how her team will perform.
“I am worried more about us at this point in time. We need to get everybody on the same page,�� Felderman said as she enters her 26th season as the Lady Hardrockers head coach. “With the youth (on the Hardrocker team) there are a lot of questions out there. They know they should be going somewhere at sometime – they just have a little trouble putting it all together (referring to SDM’s system of play).”
Sunday’s game will have just two returning starters --- no seniors and eight freshman listed on the roster for SDM.
Junior guard Melanie Vedvie (5-7 from Lake Preston) is the top returnee, coming back as the Dakota Athletic Conference MVP. The only other returning Hardrocker is Rock Valley, Iowa, junior Amber DeWeerd. The 5-10 forward is expected to have a big year. After that it's all fresh recruits. Junior Jennie Malone and sophomore Stephanie Carpio (both on last year’s team) will be unavailable to play hoops until after volleyball season.
“Whenever they are done (with volleyball), they can join us, but we don’t know when that will be,” Felderman added. The freshman group consists of Karmen Powell (a guard from McIntosh, S.D.), Rachel O��Hara (a guard/forward from Humbolt, S.D.), Bethany Holyoak (a post/forward from Moorcroft, Wyo.), Madi Hotovec (a guard from Phoenix, Ariz.), Kayla Goshorn (a guard from Rapid City, S.D.), Nicole Martin (a guard from Missoula, Mont.), Stephanie Leber (a guard from Dell Rapid, S.D.) and Leah Sundby (a post from Williston, N.D.).
“I like their energy. These kids read things a little bit better and they know basketball a little bit better than in the past,” Felderman said of her new players. “They can create some things --- which is comforting. But with only two returnees on the court, we are pretty much driving without a steering wheel.”
Look to see all the new ‘Rockers get some significant playing time until they can gain some experience and establish themselves in the SDM program that has been so successful over the years.
“This is the time of year where everyday is a learning situation,” Felderman added. “If I had the magic wand that turned them from freshman into sophomores I would do it.”
The goal for any team is obviously to win the game and have a successful season, but as the first game is set to tip-off , the Lady ���Rockers are going in with a tad simpler approach.
“We want to learn from the stuff we have been working on --- even the fundamental drills. In practice we have been drilling and drilling and drilling,” Felderman said. “If we can see some better closeouts or other defensive techniques (in the game) then that would be awesome. It’s not just the plays, it’s building on those fundamentals.”
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