Nov. 10, 2000
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
There is much anticipation as the 2000-01 Wyoming Cowgirl basketballseason approaches. There are several familiar faces, along with newadditions to this year's Cowgirl team, as head coach Cindy Fisher beginsher third season at the helm.
Fisher welcomes back eight letterwinners and three starters, alongwith three newcomers to the squad. With three returning starters andfive other letterwinners that saw significant playing time last season,the Cowgirls will look to improve on a 10-18 overall record and a 4-10conference mark.
"I'm very excited about this year's team," said Fisher. "Overall, eventhough we're going to be young in key positions, I think our playersgained valuable experience, playing key minutes, and we should be ableto build on that during the season. Although we're lacking in numbersright now, with injuries and redshirts, I think the nucleus of this teamwill be strong and do some things in the Mountain West Conference."
The 2000-01 squad will be made up of two seniors, six juniors, foursophomores, and one freshman. With a couple of seasons and recruitingclasses under her belt, Fisher says her expectations for this team arehigh.
"I expect a lot more from this year's team than last with a whole yearof experience," said Fisher. "Expectations are always higher going intothe season, and the team has put a lot on themselves. They're greatcompetitors, and committed to this team. I look for this to be a yearthat we gel together as a team, and really start to build on what thisprogram is going to be about in the future."
Due to an injury to forward Carrie Bacon this season, Fisher will lookto several people this season for leadership and big contributions,especially the three returning starters. Senior Jessica Gibbs, a solidstarter from a year ago, returns as the Cowgirls expected leader. Shefinished second on the team in points and rebounds with 10.5 and 7.7respectively. Carly Stucky, played in every game as a true freshman,leading the Cowgirls in both steals and assists. Returning center AnnMcColl will also see significant playing time. Also expected to make astrong contribution will be guards Shelby Hoffman and Heather Shaffner,along with forwards Darci Arsene, Christy Bacon, and Lisa McCann.Hoffman averaged 12.6 points in 26.1 minutes of play, while Arsenefinished with her freshman campaign averaging three points and 3.3rebounds. McCann contributed 3.1 points and two rebounds in 26 games.
"I think losing Carrie this year obviously gives some other players anopportunity to step up and really take their game to another level. Italso puts the pressure on them to become scorers and good defenders."
"Jessica Gibbs is a very strong player in the post, and we'll look forleadership from her. Senior Shelby Hoffman has put in a great deal ofwork in the off-season, and looks as good as I've ever seen her. She'sreally developed from just a three-point shooter into a player that canpull up and hit a jumper or go in and rebound. I've also seen ChristyBacon do some nice things in the off-season. She is a very athleticplayer for us, and will really help us on the defensive side of theball. We will look forward to stepping in at the three position andcontributing."
"Second year players Carly Stucky and Darci Arsene also look to factorinto this year's team. Carly played a lot of minutes, and willdefinitely lead us at the point. She's looking forward to be a leader onthis team, and taking us to another level."
Despite the loss of Carrie Bacon and the youth in certain positions,Coach Fisher sees great potential in her team.
"The strength of this team is the fact that they've put in a great dealof work in the off-season. They've all come in very good shape andcondition, and there's a great opportunity to do some good things inthis conference. We obviously have a strong perimeter and post game withAnn McColl, Jessica Gibbs, Lisa McCann and Darci Arsene, who can give ussome good size and strength in the post."
"I really don't feel like we have a lot of weaknesses, except fordepth. But, I really believe in the nucleus of this team. Once we startbuilding and getting to know one another, we're going to get better."
In the off season, the Cowgirls brought in one freshman and twotransfers.
The real impact player could be freshman guard Brenda Pickup. Pickup, a5-7 point guard from Prairie High School in Brush Prairie, Wash.,averaged 12 points, five assists and six steals. A two-time All-Districtselection, she helped lead her team to state championships as asophomore and junior, plus the runner-up spot this past season. Over athree-year period, her team's overall record was 71-8, and as a senior,she was named USA Today Honorable Mention High School All-American, WIAAAll-State, and an All-American at the BCI Tournament.
"I'm really excited about the addition of Brenda to our squad. Weneeded more depth in the guard position with the loss of Carrie and onlyone true point guard in Carly. With her presence, she should really beable to help us out tremendously."
In addition to Pickup, the Cowgirls welcome Chassie and CherrithWiersma. Chassie, a 5-11 guard from Central Point, Ore., averaged 6.9points and 4.1 rebounds last season at Oregon State. Her twin sisterCherrith is a 5-9 guard who also transferred from Oregon State, whereshe was a two-year starter. Both players will have to sit out thisseason under NCAA transfer rules. They will resume play during the2001-02 season with two years of eligibility remaining.
This season, Wyoming enters their second season of competition in theMountain West Conference. The Cowgirls will face fierce competitionevery night against several top schools, which include Air Force,Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico, UNLV, Utah and San DiegoState. The Cowgirls will once again play each of those teams in a homeand away series.
Once again, the Cowgirls will face one of the tougher schedules withnon-conference games against such perennial teams as Colorado, KansasState, Nevada and Oregon State.
"Our conference and non-conference schedule is very competitive. I'mvery excited about the fact we have several home games. We can bring theshow into the MPG and allow people to watch us early, and see what thisteam's all about. I hope being at home will also build confidence in ourteam, and help us get ready for the conference season."
The conference schedule will see the Cowgirls play some high caliberopponents in Brigham Young, Colorado State, New Mexico and Utah. TheCowgirls will also be playing several teams that participated in theNCAA Tournament last season.
"I think the conference season will be a dogfight every night. It's avery strong conference that continues to get stronger. There are someyoung players in the conference, so they will also have a year undertheir belt just like us, and I think it will be very competitive. Againwe open up with Colorado State at home this year, and it's always anexciting game for us. We're just going to fight to be in the top fourspots of the conference at the end of the year."
The Mountain West Conference Tournament will be held in Las Vegas, Nev.Each team in the conference will qualify for the single-eliminationtournament, which begins on Wednesday, March 7, 2000 and runs throughSaturday, March 10th.