By Pete Chiodo
The Allegheny College women’s basketball team has its sights set on another successful campaign as it opens the 2013-14 season against D’Youville College tonight at 8 p.m. as part of the Greg Richards Memorial Tip-off Tournament at the David V. Wise Center.
The Lady Gators are looking to improve upon last season’s 15-12 record, which included a 9-7 mark in the North Coast Athletic Conference as well as a postseason run to the NCAC semifinals.
To do so, the Lady Gators — picked fourth in the NCAC preseason coaches poll — will have to make up for a couple key losses at the forward positions with the graduations of Daryl Ford and Ann Ryan. Ford was a first-team All-NCAC pick a year ago after leading the Gators with 13.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. Ryan averaged 6.3 points per night and was second on the team in rebounds with 5.2 per game.
“We relied on (Ford) a lot for her scoring ability, specifically around the rim, and the rebounding,” said Allegheny head coach Kate Costanzo, who is in her seventh year with the program. “That will definitely be missed. Her and Ann Ryan were both inside players.
“But we have some younger players that are ready to step up. ... We will be relying on sophomores and first-years to fill those spots.”
Sophomores Kaitlyn Fromknecht and Iffie Uwazie will be the main two inside this season.
“There will be a lot of freshman post players in the mix,” said Costanzo. “Any of the freshmen, they’re all post players, they will be pretty interchangable.”
While the forwards will be relatively new, the Gators do return an experienced crew of guards.
“That’s very good news,” said Costanzo. “We will have a lot of experience at the guard positions. Our outside players have returned more confident and stronger than last year. I look for their numbers to go up as far as accuracy and shooting beyond the arc and that sort of thing.”
Among those back in uniform is sophomore Emma Pellicano who was the NCAC’s Newcomer of the Year last season. She was second on the team in scoring as a freshman, averaging 10.0 points per game, and was third in rebounds with 5.1 per game.
Other key returnees to the guard spots include sophomore Rachel Vigliotti, who averaged 6.5 points per game and led the Gators in assists (60) and steals (52) last year; junior Kendall Hoffman, who averaged 5.6 points per game, was second in 3-pointers (21), fourth in rebounds (4.3 per game) and tops in blocks (20); sophomore Jessica Mrdjenovich, who recorded 5.8 points per game a year ago and led team in 3-pointers (26); and junior Marina Scarantino, who scored 2.8 points per game and was second in assists (54).
“They’re geared up and really excited,” Costanzo said. “We’re looking to play more up-tempo this year, push the ball, score early and often. We’re looking to increase our scoring on offense and clamp down more on defense and hold teams under their average.
“We’re working hard,” she added. “The kids are motivated to get us back to the NCAC championship game again this year, which is our goal.”
The Gators last made the NCAC championship game at the end of the 2010-11 season.