Less drama and more talent a good combination

By Marc Knutila published October 5, 2006

Since 1975, Theatreworks has provided the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with the best live theatre in Southern Colorado. Last year, however, the campus community had a second option for finding quality drama.

There was plenty of it surrounding the Mountain Lionsâ€TM womenâ€TMs basketball team.

“We had a lot of drama last year in the beginning [of the season],” explained sophomore Whitney Knobbe, who along with Dolly Fiedelman and Caroline Ottino are the only players returning from the 2005-06 team..

Anyone who has ever been on a team that has issues between teammates knows that it can have some detrimental effects on game day (Terrell Owens anyone?).

UCCS coach Jessika Stratton inherited a team assembled by others and still managed a 12-16 record despite the discord. Now, in her second season, Stratton has put together a talented group that seems to be coming together, drama-free this time around.

Knobbe and her new teammates are excited about the chemistry that has formed between all of the new girls. It seems that they are learning from the past.

“I think we have great chemistry,” admitted Knobbe, who has been through this type of team makeover before.

During her junior year at Lamar High School, her team lost six seniors. All they did was end up taking second place in the state that year. Apparently, she knows what sheâ€TMs talking about when she says the team will be fine.

To her, the transition has been smooth.

“Itâ€TMs actually been really easy,” replied Knobbe. “Itâ€TMs been so much fun playing with new girls and getting to know them.”

However, she canâ€TMt point to just one thing that has contributed to the teamâ€TMs solid chemistry. She actually credits a few things.

“We had a team barbeque [at the start of the season],” Knobbe replied. “We also got to know each other through classes as well.”

Credit could also be given to Stratton. The returning players have seen a difference in her from last year.

“Sheâ€TMs enjoying herself more this year,” Knobbe commented. “She feels more comfortable with the program.”

Along with the enhanced team chemistry, the Mountain Lions also boast three Division I transfers to go along with the junior college leader in assists from last year. Nancy Hoist arrives at UCCS after playing a season at Eastern Kentucky. Candace Thornton (formerly Buttars) transferred from Northern Colorado, while center Tonya Tripp enters the scene after two seasons at High Point in North Carolina. Finally, Stacy LaBuhn averaged 8.5 assists per game this past season at Joliet Junior College.

Another key addition will be the return of Emily Jenkins, who led UCCS in rebounding two seasons ago.

Because of the powerful recruiting class, which also includes four highly regarded freshmen, the Mountain Lions are optimistic about the upcoming year.

“Weâ€TMre going to be just as good or better [than last year],” said Knobbe. “We have so many great players who have come into the program.”

But new players donâ€TMt always ensure success. Knobbe, though, is optimistic.

“Other teams donâ€TMt know anything about anyone on our team except the three of us who came back,” Knobbe said. “[Our opponents] wonâ€TMt know what to expect.”

All of this seems to be leading towards a successful 2006-07 season for the Mountain Lions. UCCS womenâ€TMs basketball has a more experienced coach, a new and improved recruiting class, three solid returning players and not-to-mention great team chemistry.

It looks as though the only drama for the Mountains Lions this year is going to be the good kind of drama: The drama of close games against RMAC foes. Not drama in the locker room.

For the other stuff, thereâ€TMs still Theatreworks.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe33GSo
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe33GJr.
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe34GFr.
Mackenzie KnobbeMackenzie Knobbe33GJr.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13FSo.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13FSo.
Caroline OttinoCaroline Ottino13C/FSr.
Whitney KnobbeWhitney Knobbe24G
Whitney KnobbeWhitney Knobbe24G
Tonya TrippTonya Tripp43C
Tonya TrippTonya Tripp43CSr.
Candace ThorntonCandace Thornton23G/FSo.
Candace ThorntonCandace Thornton23G/FJr.
Additional News Stories
September 27, 2006UCCS women picked fourth in RMAC preseason pollThe University of Colorado at Colorado Springs women’s basketball team was chosen to finish fourth in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s East Division according to the 2006-07 preseason coaches’ poll released Wednesday.
September 11, 2006Scavenger hunt a big hitDo not be alarmed. If on September 5 you saw Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne wandering around campus you were not hallucinating from the fumes in the science building. But in case you may have been mistaken that Jim Carrey put on his Dumb and Dumber tuxedo and made an appearance at UCCS, we would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight.
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May 16, 2006Stratton comes up big with first recruiting classWhen University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Athletic Director Stephen Kirkham selected Jessika Stratton as coach the Mountain Lions women’s basketball team, some detractors doubted whether the 24-year old would be able to recruit at the Division II level.
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