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Even though the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team doesn’t roster a single senior for the 2006-07 season, the Lady Hardrockers still have a vast amount of experience, return a trio of juniors that all started last season and have a good quantity of playing time as well as talent under their belts
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY ---- Even though the South Dakota School of Mines women’s basketball team doesn’t roster a single senior for the 2006-07 season, the Lady Hardrockers still have a vast amount of experience, return a trio of juniors that all started last season and have a good quantity of playing time as well as talent under their belts.
The Rockers lost five girls from a year ago and will have eight freshmen on this season’s team.
“On a lot of other teams, girls don’t play until they are juniors, but our (juniors) have played quite a bit (since they were freshmen),” said Lady Hardrocker head coach Barb Felderman. Making up the junior class is Jennie Malone (5-foot-10-inch guard) from Rapid City, Melanie Vedvie (5-7 guard) from Lake Preston and Amber DeWeerd (5-10 forward) from Rock Valley, Iowa.
Vedvie was the 2005-06 Dakota Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player, as well as a DAC first team selection. She led the Hardrockers, and the conference, in scoring with 564 points last season --- averaging 19.4 points a game. She also tallied 106 assists on the year and was 71 percent from the free throw line (132-186). Vedvie was also second in the conference with 7.69 rebounds per game for a total of 223 and also led the DAC in steals with 107.
“She’s dynamic,” Felderman said. “She loves the game and she plays so hard that she leads by example. She led in so many (DAC) categories and she was nationally ranked in a couple as well.”
Throw teammate Malone into the mix and the ‘Rockers have a pretty deadly 1-2 combination. Over the past two seasons, Malone has developed her touch from the outside and was the team’s second leading scorer (fifth in the DAC), knocking down 378 points for an average of 14.5 per game. She was fifth in the league for shooting percentage (51) and was just under 50 percent from behind the arc making good on 52-119 for the year which put her third in the conference --- she averaged two three-pointers a game. She also took second place in the DAC to Vedvie in total steals (71).
“In high school she didn’t shoot the ball that much, but here she has the green light to shoot,” Felderman said of Malone. “She has become one of the dominate three-point shooters in the conference. She’s worked on her penetration and has real good anticipation for the ball.”
DeWeerd will be utilized as a forward for the Hardrockers. After starting last season, DeWeerd will have a chance to spread her wings and really show what the past two seasons have taught her. She had good stats from a year ago, averaging 10.4 points a game (303 total) and 124 total boards for an average of 4.3 each game.
“This is going to be her breakout year. She’s very fluid and we use her inside where she has some good moves,” Felderman said. “But she is good from the outside too. She can penetrate and has an outside shot.”
Sophomore Stephanie Carpio (from Yuma, Colo.) is also returning. The 5-11 post player saw some quality minutes as a freshman and should provide support for her teammates.
“We are looking for her to step up this year,” Felderman added. After that, it’s all fresh faces on the SDM roster, but even though the team has new bodies, that doesn’t mean they aren’t talented.
���I really like the energy that they bring and they seem to be learning quite quickly. It just that it takes so much time,” Felderman said. “I am really pleased with practice right now. There is a lot of youth out there, but they catch on quickly.
The Hardrockers haven’t had a strong presence in the paint for the past few years, but with the addition of Leah Sundby (5-11 post) from Williston, N.D. and Bethany Holyoak (6-0) from Moorcroft, Wyo., SDM hopes to solidify things underneath. Holyoak comes to Mines from Moorcroft, Wyo., where she was a three-time all state selection. In her senior year, she was also the conference player of the year, averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. Sundby also received attention from her conference, scoring 13 points and six rebounds per game during her senior season.
Nicole Martin (5-11) from Missoula, Mont, is another that should add depth at the post position. Felderman said Martin joining the team has been a nice surprise excelling at crashing the boards and being a shot blocker.
“We will be better inside then we were a year ago,” the coach said.
The Hardrockers have also added some sharpshooters to the roster in Madi Hotovec (Phoenix, Ariz.,) and Rachel O’Hara (Humbolt, S.D.). Also new is 5-3 guard Karmen Powell. Felderman said she is being groomed to be Vedvie’s backup. The two players have been matched up all through pre-season practice. Rapid City Central graduate Kayla Goshorn, Dell Rapids native Stephanie Leber and Tauree Blankenship (from Brunssum, Netherlands) finalizes the group of recruits and all should fit in nicely with what the Hardrockers want to do this year.
“Just bringing in eight new people, if we could just get on the same page by conference time, I would be real happy,” Felderman said. “And we always want to win conference and we always want to win the national tournament.”
Looking at the DAC, things look to be pretty even up and down the line and Felderman couldn’t decide on a clear-cut favorite.
“Everybody has great recruits and a lot of teams are returning some awesome players,” Felderman said. “Who knows? It went down to the last week last year.”
The Lady Hardrockers finished with a n 18-11 overall record a year ago and 8-6 in the conference. Black Hills State ended the Hardrockers’ season in the quarterfinals of the DAC playoffs, 78-73.
The Hardrockers will be without Brenda Bassett, Chellsie Smith, Kelly Godecke, Quinn Godecke and Billie Gibson. What the team does possess this year is speed and that is something that the Hardrockers hope to exploit.
“We’ve never had a big bang game on the inside,” Felderman said. “We are going to get up and down and utilize our athleticism.”
The Lady Hardrockers kick off the season Oct. 29 at home when they take on University of Great Falls from Montana.
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