DSU women's basketball team getting defensive with new head coachAny apprehension the Dickinson State women’s basketball team had about its new head coach is long gone.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Any apprehension the Dickinson State women’s basketball team had about its new head coach is long gone.
New Zealand native Caleb Harrison, DSU’s first head coach born outside the United States, enters the 2012-13 season in which little is expected of the team from outside the walls of Scott Gymnasium. Inside the gym, however, there is far less concern.
“He’s brought new passion to the program,” DSU senior guard Ashley Jelly said. “This is exactly how you envision going out.”
Harrison, 32, replaced Andre Goldberg, who resigned last spring after three seasons, and can’t help but smile when he talks about the Blue Hawks’ upcoming season that begins Friday when they host the University of Manitoba at 7 p.m. at Scott Gym. The teams conclude a weekend doubleheader at 5 p.m. Saturday.
With only six returners, two transfers and eight incoming freshmen, DSU needed a good set of preseason practices to get acquainted with each other’s skills on the court and personalities off of it.
Harrison believes they’ve done that exceptionally well.
“Preseason has been really great,” Harrison said. “We’ve got a group who has really bought in and they’ve been working really hard for each other. Our greatest strength is we’ve got so many people from different places, yet everybody is on the same page as far as learning and working through stuff.”
Because the Blue Hawks finished last season 10-19 and lost three starters, no one really knows what to make of them as they enter their first season in the Frontier Conference. Coaches picked DSU to finish ninth out of nine teams.
“They’re kind of expecting us to be that team we were last year, not too competitive or full of heart,” senior forward Yianna Nadeau said. “I’m excited to stun them when we come in there.”
Defense, Harrison said, will define how successful the Blue Hawks’ season will be. Without an established offensive threat — Nadeau is the top returning scorer at 8.8 points per game — Harrison knows the team can’t rely on outscoring teams if it wants to win games.
“Realistically, for us to be successful, we need to be the best defensive team on the court every night,” Harrison said. “We’re not a team that’s going to be out to outscore people. We’re a team that’s going to have to defend, create turnovers and allow us to create open shots in transition. We’re really stressing our half-court and full-court defense so that we can create turnovers throughout the season.”
Jelly and Nadeau are DSU’s returning starters. Sophomore guard Jordyn Bender and sophomore center Janae Moore both saw solid playing time last season and are expected to do so again, though Bender is sidelined this weekend as she continues to heal from rotator cuff surgery.
In the post, 5-foot-11 junior forward Dawne Degel is back after a medical redshirt season in which she played just five games before a foot injury sidelined her. Senior Jenna Cabello, a 6-2 center, is also back.
Harrison said Degel has bounced back well from her injury.
“She’s been defending fantastically well — on the ball, off the ball. She’s a fun player to watch,” he said. “She’s extremely athletic. She can go make plays that other people can’t make.”
The biggest question mark for the Blue Hawks though is how much its newcomers can contribute.
Jess Bygate, a 6-1 sophomore post from Nelson, New Zealand, plays inside but also has a mid-range jumper. She averaged 11 points and six rebounds per game in her first season at Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College and was recruited to play at NCAA Division I Southeast Missouri State.
Mariah Duran, a 5-5 junior guard and transfer from Northwest College (Wyo.), is a speedy shooter who averaged 12.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.4 steals per game last season.
“Both of them understand the game,” Harrison said. “Both of them understand the defensive system.”
Along with Bygate and Duran are a host of freshmen that Harrison said will likely contribute.
Guards Lorna Shepherd, Lesina Manautu and forward Kate Golding are from Australia. Post players Emily Wolf, a New Salem-Almont High School graduate, and Jaylyn Klauzer, from Baker, Mont., are expected to fit right into the team’s system as well.
“I think we’re a deep team,” Harrison said. “I really like our freshmen. They play with more maturity and confidence than what a freshman would play with. We’re expecting really great things from all the newcomers.”
With that depth, however, comes some uncertainty as to who is going to see the most playing time.
Three days away from their first game, Harrison said the Blue Hawks’ starting lineup is “still in flux,” and will depend on who shows him they want to compete defensively.
“There’s probably a couple positions we do know,” he said. “Our guard position, it depends on how hard they compete in practice. We base all of our playing time on defense. We’re going to start our best five defensive players and we’re going to play our best five defensive players throughout the game.”
DSU women’s basketball
Head coach: Caleb Harrison (first season)
Last year: 10-19, 3-5 Dakota Athletic Conference; 4-7 vs. Frontier Conference teams
Season opener: 7 p.m. Friday vs. University of Manitoba at Scott Gymnasium
Returning starters: Yianna Nadeau, 5-10, Sr., G (8.8 ppg, 3 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1 spg, 37 3-pointers); Ashley Jelly, 5-6, Sr., G (6.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2 apg, 1 spg, 31 3-pointers).
Returners: Jordyn Bender, 5-7, So., G (6.9 ppg, 2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.4 spg, 30 3-pointers); Dawne Degel, 5-11, Jr., F (4.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, played 5 games due to injury); Janae Moore, 5-11, So., F (3.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg); Jenna Cabello, 6-2, Sr., C (2.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg).
Newcomers: Sierra Bayles, 5-7, Fr., G; Jess Bygate, 6-1, So., F; Mariah Duran, 5-5, Jr., G; Alysia Gibson, 5-8, Fr., G; Kate Golding, 6-0, Fr., F; Jaylyn Klauzer, 6-0, Fr., F; Demorah Jones, 5-7, Fr., G; Lesina Manautu, 5-7, Fr., G; Lorna Shepherd, 5-9, Fr., G; Emily Wolf, 5-11, Fr., F.