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2012-13 women’s basketball staff predictions

Malone: If the Massachusetts women’s basketball team is to avoid the struggles that resulted in a 15-44 combined record through Sharon Dawley’s first two years at the helm, the team is going to need veteran-like play from it’s incoming crop of freshmen players. Look for freshman forward Rashida Timbilla to get starter’s minutes as the Minutewomen lean heavily on their newcomers to contribute.

At the heart and soul of this UMass squad is senior center Jasmine Watson, who will join the prestigious 1,000-point club in either the team’s first or second game. I’m expecting Watson (career 12.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg) to lead the team in most of the major statistical categories, and with a little luck, she might find herself on the All-Atlantic 10 first team at season’s end.

Now in year three, Dawley finally has the majority of her own players in the fold, but at the end of the day, I can’t  predict a storybook season for the Minutewomen in 2012-13. I think sneaking into the A-10 tournament as a 12 or 11-seed is their ceiling. There’s too much scoring to replace and too much of the team’s burden will fall on inexperienced youth. The future is bright for Dawley and her girls, but they’ll take their lumps this season.

Okerman: The Massachusetts women’s basketball team will need to find a solid balance between their freshmen and more experienced players in order to compete in the strong Atlantic 10 Conference this year. The Minutewomen graduated just two seniors — their starting backcourt — while also bringing in five freshmen. Having a competitive first and second team

will be crucial to the team’s success.

The spotlight will be on the defensive end of the floor rather than on the offensive side. Coach Sharon Dawley has been stressing defense in practice, and her three captains have embraced the message.

On offense, Jasmine Watson will continue to be a force down low. Carolann Cloutier will be expected step up and fill the scoring lost from graduation.

In Dawley’s third year, the Minutewomen will be better overall and should make the A-10 tournament as a bottom-half seed.

Cappiello: The Massachusetts women’s basketball team enters the new season hoping a trickle-down affect from veteran leadership will help new faces lead the team to success in 2012-13.

Looking to improve on last season’s disappointing 8-21 record, senior co-captains guard Dee Montgomery and center Jasmine Watson will emerge as clear leaders in Sharon Dawley’s third year as coach.

Junior Kiara Bomben, sophomores Emily Mital and Aisha Rodney and freshman Adriana Jordan are poised to emerge as sleepers this season with the opposition’s focus on Montgomery and Watson.

Watson’s strong play will help UMass prove it’s projected 15th place poll position wrong and earn a trip to the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Philadelphia as a bottom seed.

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