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Overcoming Diversity

CCSU Women’s Basketball 2009-10 Preview

By Carmine Vetrano

The 2008-09 season for the women’s basketball team is one that is going to go down in team history. Last season, the women’s team won a total of 18 games (18-14) that included 12 wins in conference play and a trip to the NIT tournament. One can say that is a huge turn around from the 4-25 record in 07-08.

The 2009-10 team was picked third in the NEC preseason poll, and yet they are still looking to turn some heads as them embark on the 09-10 season next week.

Returning to the sideline for her third straight year is CCSU alumna Beryl Piper. Coach Piper guided CCSU to a 12-6 record in conference play, which was good for a second overall seed in the NEC tournament. After falling to St. Francis (PA) in the NEC semifinals, the Blue Devils were selected to play in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, the first time in the program’s history.

Coach Piper knew the 08-09 team was something different.

“After the Rhode Island Tournament I felt that we could make a push,” Coach piper said.

The team would go 14-9 after winning the two games at the Rhody Classic.

The 09-10 team shouldn’t disappoint either.

Coming back is NEC Preseason All-Conference Team member Kerrianne Dugan. Dugan, who was a second team All-NEC selection last season and played and started in all 32 games for the Blue Devils, averaged 11.6 points a game and 5.9 rebounds a game. The junior forward led the Blue Devils in minutes played with 1113 while compiling 92 assists and 50 steals. Dugan also ranked sixth in the NEC in shooting percentage.

“She can do it all,” Piper said of Dugan in a simple yet powerful statement. “She is at the top in every category and fights hard.”

Joining Dugan is sophomore guard Shontice Simmons. Simmons, like Dugan, started in every game for the Blue Devils as a freshman and led the team in points with 12.5 per game, steals with 56, and assists with 110. Simmons was rewarded at the end of the season with an NEC All-Rookie Team selection.

“She runs the show,” Piper said about Simmons’ play. “She has floor determination and can buzz through the zone and shoot the three.”

Coach Piper preaches the depth this 09-10 team has this season and feels that every player has something to contribute to the team.

Also returning to the team is junior forward Lorane Crockett, who led the Blue Devils in field goal shooting with a percentage of 48.1 and three point shooting with a percentage of 41.8. She also led the team in rebounds with 7.81 per game and total three pointers made with 51.

“Her pull-up jump shot,” Piper said about Crockett’s strength. “She probably has the best pull-up jump shot in the whole league.”

The team is battling through some hardships right now as they get ready to take on Maine on Nov. 13 up in Orono to kick off the season.

“We’re battling some injuries and this flu bug that is going around,” Piper said. “Its almost like we gain two, we lose two, we gain one, lose one,” she joked.

Piper expects the conference games to be a lot closer this season and feels that overall the competition has picked up. Yet she still has some unfinished business of her own.

“I would love to beat Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart,” Piper said. “We beat them all the time when I played and we shouldn’t lose to them consistently like this.”

But Piper has her eyes set on the rest of the league as well. “I still want to beat the teams we beat last year and lost to so that means to go undefeated,” Piper said with a smile. “I am excited to see the other competition and to see what other teams bring.”

With the majority of the players returning and the depth the team has, that might not be that hard to reach.