Women's basketball season preview

By Mike McNeeley published November 11, 2004

The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs womenâ€TMs basketball has some big shoes to fill.

B.J. McNeally, arguably the best player to ever play at the school, is gone. Joining her in graduating last year were fellow starters Elise Hazelwood and Meghan McGee. The senior trio averaged a combined 30.0 points per game in 2003-04, accounting for more than 50 percent of the Mountain Lionsâ€TM offense.

Marty Fletcher, who is entering his third season as Mountain Lion coach, knows filling the void wonâ€TMt be easy. But by playing better overall team basketball, he feels CU-Colorado Springs can be successful.

“You donâ€TMt really zero in on and try to identify where the points are going to come from,” said Fletcher. ‘We just need try to become better at executing on offense, finishing plays when we create turnovers and rebounding. We have to continue to improve individually and as team.”

One player that has showed marked improvement from the offseason is Julie Richards. Richards, a 6-2 center, showed flashes of brilliance last season, especially on the defensive end, but was often hampered by foul trouble. She went trough a rigorous off-season workout regimen focusing on her agility.

“(Richards) worked very hard in the off-season at her footwork, hopefully that will help her be in better position defensively,” said Fletcher. “Physically she is in the best shape she has ever been in and I think mentally, she will also perform at a higher level.”

Joining Richards in the front court will be junior-college transfer Emily Jenkins. Jenkins averaged 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season at Big Bend Community College where she was named first-team All-NWAAC.

“Jenkins plays very hard and aggressive,” said Fletcher. “She is also one of the fastest players on the team.”

After Jenkins and Richards, the Mountain Lions will look to unproven players to contribute. Caroline Ottino, who is plays middle blocker on the CU-Colorado Springs volleyball team, is one of Fletcherâ€TMs options off the bench.

Coming off a season where she was named second-team All-RMAC in volleyball, Ottino will be playing basketball competitively for the first time since high school. Ottinoâ€TMs size and athleticism should allow her to give the Mountain Lions valuable minutes, but it may take her some time to learn Fletcherâ€TMs complex offense. Freshman Crystal Armendarez will also see some time at the post along with Mackenzie Knobbe who can play on the perimeter.

“We are a little thin in the post area,” said Fletcher. “But on the perimeter we have much more depth than previous years.”

Jennine Sauter, who was named All-RMAC honorable mention in each of her first two seasons, will be the small forward. Sauter is the Mountain Lions most potent offensive threat. She can shoot the 3-pointer, can put the ball on the floor and drive and is an excellent passer for a six-footer.

“Jennine makes good decisions,” said Fletcher. “A lot time itâ€TMs not how you pass it but when you pass it.”

Stephanie Sauter, Jennineâ€TMs younger sister, will see time at both small forward and shooting guard. The freshman has a smooth stroke and has shown a good feel for the game. At 5-9, Stephanie Sauter also gives the Mountain Lions more size in the backcourt.

Janine Ota, who started every game for the Mountain Lions last year, will be the teams off guard. Ota is a smart player who makes very few mistakes. In 2003-04 she was the Mountain Lionsâ€TM only player to have a positive assist to turnover ratio. Dolly Fiedelman will come off the bench. Fiedelman is extremely quick and is a good ball handler.

Playing point for the Mountain Lions will be any one of three players. Lindsay Arnoldus and Maribeth Martinez both have a wealth of experience playing at the junior college level. Arnoldus is a pure point guard. Her pass-first mentality will allow her to rack up the assists. Martinez is the Mountain Lions best perimeter defender. With her long frame and quickness, she has the ability to shut opposing guards down.

Nicole Opferman, who was the backup point guard last year, has an integral knowledge of the offense, and is likely the best rebounder under 5-5 in the conference.

“The point guard position is very demanding,” said Fletcher. “You are the quarterback on both offense and defense. We have three players that are capable of playing point.”

The Mountain Lions are coming off a season in which they lost five games by three points or fewer and missed the RMAC Tournament by just two games.

“We had a lot of very close games last season,” said Fletcher. “Hopefully those close games turn into victories.”


UCCS Players/Staff Featured

BJ McNeallyBJ McNeally10GJr.
B.J. McNeallyB.J. McNeally10GSr.
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FFr.
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FSo
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FJr.
Jennine SauterJennine Sauter21FSr.
Nicole OpfermanNicole Opferman30GSr.
Nicole OpfermanNicole Opferman30GJr
Nicole OpfermanNicole Opferman30GSo.
Elise HazelwoodElise Hazelwood31CSr
Elise HazlewoodElise Hazlewood31CJr.
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe34GFr.
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe33GSo
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe33GJr.
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe33GJr.
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CSo
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CFr.
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CJr.
Julie RichardsJulie Richards40CSr.
Meghan McgeeMeghan Mcgee41FJr.
Meghan McGeeMeghan McGee41FSr
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13C/FSr.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13FSo.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13FSo.
Lindsay ArnoldusLindsay Arnoldus10GJr.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins22FSo.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins22FSo.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins33FJr.
Emily JenkinsEmily Jenkins33FSr.
Crystal ArmendarezCrystal Armendarez24FFr.
Crystal ArmendarezCrystal Armendarez20F
Stephanie SauterStephanie Sauter32GFr.
Stephanie SauterStephanie Sauter12F
Maribeth MartinezMaribeth Martinez14GJr.
Maribeth MartinezMaribeth Martinez14G
Additional News Stories
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March 14, 2005Coach search beginsHead Women’s Basketball CoachFull-time, 12 month positionAs an NCAA Division II institution and member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs invites applicants for Head Women’s Basketball Coach. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, managing all aspects of a competitive women’s basketball program, recruitment and retention of quality student-athletes, practice organization and game management, budget preparation and maintenance, and compliance with all University, NCAA and RMAC rules. Must show a strong commitment to the academic goals of the student-athlete and be able to promote and support the University’s mission.
March 3, 2005Richards named second-team All-RMAC West DivisionUniversity of Colorado at Colorado Springs center Julie Richards was named second-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference West Division, the conference announced Friday.
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