October 16, 2010

CUA hits the court for first time this weekend

WASHINGTON – With the calendar now reading October, that can mean only one thing: college basketball season is upon us.  The CUA women's basketball team will hit the floor for its first official practice on Sunday as the Cardinals begin their preparations for the upcoming season.

CUA head coach Matt Donohue, now in his third season, is eager to get his team out on the court.  "It's certainly an exciting time of year and we're ready to get going.  Everyone is healthy and the girls really embraced our offseason program.  This is the most excitement we've had around the program at this time of year since I've been here."

He continued, "We have a great group of freshmen, a good group of sophomores and a number of girls who missed significant time last year so we have a lot of new faces.  The question for us over the next month is to figure things out and see where everyone fits."

Donohue said that in the early going the Cardinals will be looking to focus on two critical areas.  "We're designed to be an up-tempo team, we want to run and put up a lot of points, so we need to get that style of play engrained in our players.  But we really need to focus on improving our half-court defense and our rebounding.  Those are two huge areas of focus that we need to improve in." 

He went onto add, "We'll have significant competition at a number of positions as well, so we'll see how that plays out."

Donohue likes the mixture of talent on this year's team, and is excited to see the newest Cardinals in action.  "Last year injuries hurt us, particularly at the point guard spot where we were forced to play a few people out of position.  This season we have a number of freshmen that we'll be expecting big minutes from in our backcourt."

He continued, "In the backcourt, freshman Emily Grabiak will be looking to make a positive impact for us, while Rachel Ferri is a transfer student who brings collegiate experience at the Division II level to our program.  Margaret Riordan is a low-post player who has the potential to do big things and we're very excited about Elizabeth Briones, a guard/forward who can do a lot of different things."

Last season CUA ranked second in the Landmark Conference in three-point shooting and the Cardinals were in the top-half of the league in scoring offense.  Donohue expects the Cardinals to once again do well in those facets of the game, but he'd like to see CUA improve in other key areas.

"We need to have a greater focus and take more pride in our defense this season.  We've proven that we can score, but now we need to prove that we can defend and defend well late in games."

He continued, "We also need to get better at our interior rebounding and our free throw shooting.  We have to do those three things well in order to be successful.  Those are three areas in which we struggled last year down the stretch, so they'll be focal points.  We'll continue to hang our hat on running and shooting it well, but we must improve in those other three areas."

The Cardinals will tip off their 2010-11 season on Friday, November 19 when they travel to take on Eastern Mennonite on the campus of Franklin & Marshall.  Tip-off is slated for 2:00.

To view the Cardinals entire 2010-11 schedule, please click here.

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