FROSTBURG, MD —
The Frostburg State women’s basketball program will take on a new look in 2001-02. Jody Pepple enters her first season as head coach after serving as the team’s top assistant the last six seasons, taking over for Jim Crawley, who led the Bobcats to a 406-188 record in 23 seasons.
Also new will be FSU’s guard-oriented offense, which will be looked upon to help reverse last year’s 7-18 finish that snapped a streak of 20 consecutive winning seasons.
Pepple and the Bobcats will have the luxury of several returners from last year’s squad, led by junior Kim Faust (Ambler, Pa./Upper Dublin).
Faust a preseason All-America honorable mention selection by DIII News and D3HOOPS.com, was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Most Valuable Player after enjoying one of the greatest seasons in FSU history with 21.4 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.
Faust was one of just two players to start all 25 games last season, led the Bobcats in field goal percentage (50.1) and steals (51) and was FSU’s top scorer in 20 of the team’s 25 games.
She scored in double figures in all but one game, posted 15 double-doubles and set career-highs with 39 points and 17 rebounds in an 84-59 win over Lake Erie. She also established a Bobcat single-game record by making 19 field goals in that game.
"Kim’s definitely our workhorse in the middle," said Pepple. "She can rebound, she can run the floor and she also handles the ball well. She’s not your traditional center; she can get the rebound and make the outlet pass, and she’s also fast enough to get down the floor and finish on the break. We’ll rely on her as our force inside."
Pepple’s other options in the middle will include two other returners and one newcomer.
Seniors Liz Paesani (Frostburg, Md./Southern Garrett) and Donita Valentine (Laurel, Md./Meade) will battle for the other starting post position.
Paesani, who averaged 1.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in a reserve role last season, is a solid defensive player who will be looked upon for rebounding support. She appeared in all 25 games a year ago and possesses a strong shot from 15 feet and in.
Valentine brings good speed and rebounding skills, and she is a strong athlete who runs the break well. Valentine, who transferred from Baltimore City Community College last year, contributed 2.0 points and 2.4 rebounds and will be another player aiming for a break-through season.
The lone freshman on this year’s squad is Sara Schumacher (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown), who played under former FSU standout Joe Haggard in high school. Schumacher will see a lot of action at the three and four spots, and Pepple looks for the rookie to have an impact on the boards and to provide offense with her solid shot.
With limited height and numbers in the post, Pepple will turn to a guard-dominant roster that features eight players at the position.
Senior Kesha Frisby (Clinton, Md./Oxon Hill), who will serve as a team co-captain with Faust, returns after averaging 11.2 points and 5.2 rebounds last season. She also added 81 assists and 37 steals and joined Faust as the only two players to start all 25 games a year ago.
"Kesha’s a very good leader both on and off the floor," said Pepple. "I think she’s stepped her game up from last year. She’s a smart shooter, and we’re also expecting a lot from her in terms of rebounding out of the three-guard position."
Expectations are running high as well for junior Holly Myers (York, Pa./West York), who ranked third on the team with 10.0 points per game and grabbed 3.6 rebounds per contest last season.
Myers, the slated starter at the shooting guard spot, set a school record with 49 three-pointers last year, and she led the Bobcats with 86 assists and ranked second with 41 steals.
Myers also showed flashes of offensive brilliance, notching a career-high 27 points in an 87-51 win over Villa Julie and posting a triple double with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in narrow loss to Penn State Altoona.
"Holly worked hard over the off-season and has gotten much stronger," said Pepple. "She's entering her third year as a starter, and I’m looking for her to have a big year."
Sophomore Kenita Honesty (Reston, Va./South Lakes), who started five of the 18 games in which she appeared last season, brings speed and experience to the lineup at the point. She averaged 2.9 points, dished out 15 assists and recorded 19 steals in a reserve role and will bring solid play off the bench.
"Kenita’s a much stronger player now than last year," Pepple commented. "Her confidence has really increased, and her game has picked up because of that."
Junior Jonee Jones (McConnellsburg, Pa./McConnellsburg), a transfer from nearby Potomac State College, is the likely starter at point guard and may also see time at the shooting guard spot. The left-hander has excellent speed, is a great defender and sees the floor very well. She could very well have an immediate impact on the squad in her first season.
Junior Naomi Mason (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown), who transferred from Hagerstown Community College, is expected to see a lot of time at the two guard. Mason should combine with Myers to give the Bobcats two very dangerous threats from three-point range.
Three more newcomers looking to make their marks are junior Christina Bleivik (Houston, Pa,/Bartlett (Alaska)), junior Tiffany Parker (Pasadena, Md./Northeast) and sophomore Jimmien Strong (Seat Pleasant, Md./Duval).
Bleivik, who transferred from Division II California University of Pennsylvania, is a very smart player with good speed. She enjoyed a solid season with the Bobcat women’s soccer team in the fall, and she is slated to see a lot of time at point guard as well as the two-guard spot.
Parker is another extremely fast and quick guard and should be one of the team’s defensive forces.
Strong enters her first year with the program and will be a force on the defensive end of the floor.
With plenty of guard depth and solid athleticism in the post, Pepple plans to mix up her defenses and run an up-tempo offense.
"Our goal is to keep the other team off-balance, and we’re going to force teams to run with us."
The Bobcats will certainly face a stiff challenge from the opening tip, as they kickoff the season Friday night at the Marymount Tournament against King’s College, which has made the NCAA Division III Tournament the last two years. Other possible opponents in the tournament include host Marymount, ranked No. 11 in the national preseason poll, and Salisbury, which finished 24-4 a year ago.
Pepple sees Penn State Altoona, defending champion Penn State Behrend and Pitt-Greensburg as the teams to beat in the AMCC title race.
"Altoona returns everybody from last year and has to be the front runner," she said. "Behrend has one of the best post players in the AMCC, and Greensburg is moving right up there."
Pepple looks to a new offensive philosophy and the blending of her new talent with the returning veterans for renewed success in her rookie campaign at the helm.
"I think the more we play, the better we’re going to get. It will be more of an outside game with a lot of picking, rolling and screening, and it’ll certainly be a different style of play than what fans have seen in the past from us.
"We know we’re going to be the underdog, but I think we’ll surprise some people."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303