Women’s basketball ready to tip off

A winning record and playing the then No. 1 team in the country to a double overtime loss may make some coaches feel pretty comfortable about their work. But second year Head Coach Katie Meier and the Women’s Basketball team is hitting the court hard, seeking to exceed expectations.

After a 16-14 season in 2005, the team lost one of its biggest contributors, Tamara James. James graduated last year and was drafted by the Washington Mystics. She was the eighth pick in the first round.

Despite the loss, Meier is confident about where the team can go this season.

She leads her team into the 2006-07 season, which begins Nov. 10 against Georgia State, with five new players and six returning ‘Canes.

Senior guard Renee Taylor leads all returning ‘Canes with 15.6 points per game.

The captains for this year’s team, voted on by the players, are sophomore LaToya Cunningham and senior Amy Audibert. Meier made it a point that the leaders of this team were selected by the team itself. Meier believes strongly in the power of the team dynamic.

As the first contest creeps up, the team is working hard to refine their game.

“We’re crunching, because we’re working on a shorter schedule than usual,” Meier said.

The season starts earlier than last year, and Meier said that a lost week is sorely missed.

So how far can this team go? The ‘Canes went further last year than they were predicted to go, finishing sixth in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Confernece, after being projected to finish eleventh.

And Meier feels they’re going to exceed any expectations again.

“The girls set the goals and I think they definitely want to be in the postseason, but they want the NCAA’s,” Meier said. “In order to reach that goal, we’re going to really be very consistent, and I think that would be the one worry about this team. How consistent are we going to be from Monday to Thursday?”

Consistency is not helped by the addition of five new players, but Meier believes the five additions will contribute greatly to the team.

“We played a scrimmage against an outside opponent and I was most pleased with the five new players,” Meier said. “I thought they were phenomenal.”

Meier is a firm believer in student support of the team and expects this season will not let fans down.

“Come watch us because it’s an exciting style,” she said. “I think you’re going to see some very competitive, high-level basketball in the [BankUnited Center] this year.”

Matthew Bunch may be contacted at m.bunch@umiami.edu