By WES HOST
When one season ends, another one always begins. The men’s basketball team started its season against DI American University as an exhibition for Mary Washington alumni on Oct. 31. They lost the game 71-46 but got experience against the Patriot League squad.
The Eagles brought back junior guards Walt Smith and Bradley Riester in addition to freshman guard Taylor Johnson. The rest of their lineup however has been overhauled with freshmen and transfer students. Two freshmen that started against American were John Yoxthimer, a 6-5 center from Loudoun Valley high school and Lamont Fields, a 6-6 swingman from Dinwiddle High School, who is known as a destructive dunker.
Other recruits include 6-8 forward/center Taylor Jensen and Jamie Richardson, a 6-2 guard, both of whom had notable playing time in the exhibition (Richardson 17, Jensen 11).
Missing from the line-up was E.J. Willis. The forward averaged six points a game last season off the bench, and was a particularly vicious rebounder and shot blocker.
Despite Willis’ absence, the remaining members are strong, and the recruiting class is one of the best in the Rod Wood era. Winning the Capital Athletic Conference Championship shouldn’t be a problem. With a vaster, taller roster, they will be able to match up better against opponents.
The team starts their regular-season opener against Hamden-Sydney College who is ranked 25th, according to the NCAA preseason poll. St. Mary’s College of Maryland, whom the Eagles will play twice this season, is ranked 19th. The first game will be on Jan. 16 at the Anderson Center. Southern Virginia University and York College of Pennsylvania will also be key match ups this season. Southern Virginia will be a permanent mainstay in the CAC in 2013, while York was the team the Eagles lost to in last year’s championship game.
The women’s basketball team had an equally hard time in their exhibition game against the College of William and Mary. The team lost 74-33 in Williamsburg after being held to just 27 percent shooting. Luckily, they will not be playing any teams equivalent to the caliber of the Tribe this season. The team was ranked 13th in the nation in the NCAA preseason poll.
The team lost forward Jenna McRae and All-American guard Kate Wimmer to graduation, both of whom accounted for much of the team’s offensive production. Coming back this season include senior center Carol Dye, junior point guard Sam Partonen, junior forwards Aby Diop and Brieneke Matthews and Sophomore forward Aubrey Howland. Coach Denna Applebury and also added height, something that they did not have enough of in the Elite 8 matchup against George Fox that ended their 2012 season. Introducing freshman center Tori Hooper (6’2”) and freshmen forwards Amy Bowden (5’11”) and Caitie Geoghegan (6’1”), the Eagles shouldn’t have a problem dominating the frontcourt.
The women will have a hard time going undefeated again this season, but will still be successful, both in the CAC and out. Notable games include against Hartwick and Wilkes in the Cruzin Classic in Ft. Lauderdale Fla. on Dec. 18 and 19. They also take on Ferrum, who has preseason votes from ESPN. Perhaps one of the best games though will come in the waning time of their season, playing York at home on Feb.13th. The Eagles defeated York in last season’s CAC Championship and have upgraded their roster as well.