Sue Semrau has many problems with which to contend in her first season as the Occidental College women's basketball coach. One of them is inexperience; the team will comprise two juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.
"I'm hoping that our youth, hustle and enthusiasm can make for up for the lack of experience, " Semrau said.
Occidental, which finished fourth in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season, will have a change of offensive philosophy.
"We're going to be quicker than teams here have been in the past--I think we're really strong when we run--and a little more aggressive than they have been in the past," Semrau said.
Sophomore Sharon Wada, the team's most-valuable player last season, is the Tigers' most experienced player. The 5-5 guard averaged 6.7 points and six assists a game last season. She also set records for assists in a game (14) and season (158).
"She has good eyes on the court and passes and shoots well," Semrau said.
Wada and Sharon Bruner, a 5-7 sophomore guard who is a threat on the fast break, will operate the offense. Bruner is also an excellent defensive player.
Semrau said the majority of Occidental's scoring should come from forwards Joelle Orton and Kelly Stephenson.
"We don't have a lot of height so they'll take up the bulk of the work inside," Semrau said.
Orton, a 6-0 junior, was Occidental's second-leading scorer last season, averaging 9.5 points a game. She also led the Tigers with 9.8 rebounds a game and shot 48%. Stephenson, a 5-10 sophomore, averaged 9.2 points and 6.6 rebounds last season.
The Tigers will have several newcomers vying for the fifth starting position. Thus far, Semrau has been impressed with the performance of the freshmen.
Melissa Vander Pol, a 5-9 forward, had limited playing time, but still grabbed seven rebounds in a 65-60 victory over Southern California College last week. In that game, Kathy LaPointe, a 6-1 forward, played good defense and rebounded well, Semrau said. Karen Hagberg, a 5-5 guard, was the game's second-leading scorer with 13 points. Julie Markee, a 5-10 forward, led the team with eight rebounds.
Rachel Andrews, a 5-5 guard, and Adrienne DeWolfe, a 5-9 junior forward, should give the Tigers depth.
The Tigers will play without the benefit of last season's top three scorers who were lost to graduation.
Occidental will rely on the shooting and leadership of senior Jim Cartoni. The 6-0 point guard shot 50% from the field and 72% from the line last season. He converted 45 of 94 three-point shots, had a team-high 44 steals and tied the school single-game assist record with 11. Mike Guzman, a 5-11 junior who shot 79% from the line last season, will team with Cartoni in the backcourt.
Occidental lacks experience on the front line. Forward John Keister, a 6-5 junior, is the team's top returning rebounder. Alan Alietti, a 6-3 senior who shot 58% from the field, will play at wing. Chris Anderson, a 6-9 sophomore who was the most-valuable player on the junior varsity last season, will be at center.
Other players to watch are: Ryan Carnal (6-1, freshman guard), John Cawley (6-8, freshman center from Hong Kong) and Neil Schmidt (6-3, senior forward), who also runs track and cross-country and is returning for his senior season after a one-year layoff.