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SMC women’s basketball team deep and experienced


Staff writer

Last year, coming into her first season as head coach of the St. Mary’s College of Maryland Seahawks women’s basketball team, Crystal Gibson had no seniors on the roster to lead the ship.

She had to take control of the ship’s wheel.

This season with four seniors on the team, Gibson can hand over the helm to those four and hope that the senior leaders will help put the 2012-13 season into cruise control.

“There is definitely a big difference,” Gibson said of having seniors. “You could tell that the sense of urgency was in the gym from the very [first] practice in October. The girls really focused in on their preseason workouts and did a great job of getting themselves in shape and playing together.”

Senior guard Jasmine Jones is one of the four seniors looking to improve upon the 10-16 overall and 8-8 Capital Athletic Conference records the team played to last season.

The comfort level with Gibson, combined with the urgent attitudes that her and fellow seniors Pui Sham, Taylor Petrisko and Joanna Murray bring into the season, look to help the Seahawks not simply better the record from last season, but make it a season to remember.

“The difference is that we have a lot of experience between, Jo, myself, Pui and Taylor,” Jones said. “Everybody, at some point, has played on the team and contributed to the team in large ways. … We’re just excited to give it all we’ve got and have each other’s backs and push each other to the best that we can be.”

The Seahawks open the 2012-13 campaign at 1 p.m. Saturday against The City College of New York in the Seahawks Classic hosted by St. Mary’s. The Seahawks Classic continues for St. Mary’s at 1 p.m. Sunday when it faces Rosemont (Pa.).

“I am extremely excited,” Jones added of the season. “I actually feel very confident in this team that we have this year. I think that my fellow seniors and I are more motivated than we have ever been because this is now or never for us, so we are really pumped.”

According to Gibson and Jones, the team has put a major emphasis on defense and playing an aggressive type of defense.

With that mindset, Gibson is pleased that the team has depth that will allow her to play any of her 14 players and look for them to contribute on both ends of the floor.

“We want to play our hardest every minute we’re in there. We have a lot of people and we’re going to play a lot of players,” Gibson said. “It’s about giving it high intensity and high effort every time you’re in the game.”

Jones added, “Coach has really emphasized defense. It’s been about being more aggressive and really, really going for the ball, defensively … to make the other team uncomfortable and turn the ball over.”

The Seahawks will open its CAC schedule on Dec. 1 with a home contest against a York (Pa.) team that advanced to the NCAA Division III national tournament last season.

The Seahawks will visit CAC regular season and tournament champions and NCAA Division III national tournament qualifiers, Mary Washington (Va.) on Jan. 16 and also host Mary Washington on Feb. 16.

“I think this team has the ability to beat everyone that we have on our schedule,” Gibson said. “It’s just a matter of what kind of day is it going to be for us. My expectation for them is to really just go out and compete in every game. No matter how the game is going … as long as we are competing and bringing that urgency on the defensive end, then I think we will be OK.”

Jones started 25 of 26 games last season for the Seahawks and was the third leading scorer on the team last season with 6.7 points per game.

Raven Owens, the leading scorer from last season at 11.4 points per game, transferred schools.