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Balanced Women's Basketball Team Seeks AMCC Title

FROSTBURG, MD -High hopes surround the Frostburg State women’s basketball team as it enters the 2002-03 season.

Seven returners join seven freshman to give second-year head coach Jody Pepple a deep lineup as the Bobcats look to rebound from last year’s 8-18 finish and challenge for the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference crown.

Headlining a strong corps of returning players is senior Preseason All-America forward Kim Faust (Ambler, Pa./Upper Dublin).

Faust, this year’s AMCC Preseason Player of the Year, averaged 18.5 points and 10.6 rebounds and added 53 steals and 16 blocks last season and earned numerous postseason accolades, including first-team All-AMCC, second-team ECAC All-South Region and second-team All-Atlantic Region honors.

Faust led FSU in scoring 17 times and in rebounding 20 times a year ago. She had 13 double-doubles, including a monster 26-point, 22-rebound effort against Lake Erie, and she enters her final season ranked ninth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,209 career points and eighth on the rebounding chart with 687 caroms.

"Kim’s going to get her points, but she’ll also help create opportunities for other players," Pepple said. "She’s very unselfish, she’s a true leader on the court and she’ll be a good role model for our freshmen."

Sophomore Tracey Little (La Vale, Md.), a former standout at nearby Allegany High School, returns for her first full season with the Bobcats. Little transferred from West Virginia University for the spring semester and averaged 15.1 points and 8.1 rebounds while posting three double-doubles in just eight games.

Little has the ability to shoot from the outside and muscle her way in the paint and will pair with Faust to give FSU one of the top front-court duos in the AMCC.

"Tracey can shoot the three or take you down and post you up," said Pepple. "She can take the team on her back, and she teams up with Kim to give us a great outside-inside combination."

Sophomore Sarah Schumacher (Leonardtown, Md./Leonardtown) returns after averaging 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds and looks to build upon her solid rookie campaign. She enjoyed a strong off-season and will see plenty of action.

"Sarah had a very good freshman year and learned a lot about the game," said Pepple. "She’ll get a lot of time on the court this year."

Freshmen Kelly True (Warfordsburg, Pa./Southern Fulton), Ashley Mello Edgewood, Md./Edgewood) and Kenya Broadnax (Elkridge, Md./Howard) will boost the Bobcat interior and give Pepple various options throughout the lineup.

True, one of the team’s top recruits, can play the three or four position and is a quick athlete with strong rebounding skills.

"Kelly has a nice touch on her shot from 10-12 feet and will play you tough on both ends of the floor," Pepple said. "She will likely be one of the first players off the bench for us."

Mello, another of the team’s top prospects, led the state of Maryland with 14.5 rebounds per game as a senior. She will see time at the four and five positions and should be one of FSU’s top rebounders.

"Ashley shouldn’t feel any pressure with Kim and Tracey in there to lead the way," Pepple said. "She’ll give us some added presence in the middle."

Broadnax is a strong newcomer who can play either forward spot.

"Kenya has a lot of raw talent and will get better the more she plays," Pepple commented. "She should learn a lot from Kim and Tracey."

While the Bobcats are deep at the interior positions, FSU may be even more established at the guard spots. A host of veteran leaders and several strong newcomers should make a big difference as the Bobcats look to improve on their 22.8 turnovers a game a year ago.

Seniors Naomi Mason (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) and Christina Bleivik (Anchorage, Alaska/Bartlett (Pa.)) will battle for time at the point and two-guard spots, with both bringing experience needed to run the team.

Mason averaged 3.2 points and 1.0 in limited action last season and has enjoyed a strong off-season.

"Naomi is playing with a lot of confidence this preseason," said Pepple. "Last year was a transitional year for her, but she knows the system now and is very comfortable."

Bleivik, who averaged 5.8 points and ranked second on the team in both assists (69) and steals (49), brings a great deal of leadership and success to the program. She won two AMCC championships and made a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as a member of the FSU women’s soccer team, and her experience should pay big dividends.

"Christina gives us an instant confidence boost when she’s on the floor," said Pepple. "She’s coming off a knee strain suffered in the soccer season, so keeping her healthy will be key."

Senior Tiffany Parker (Pasadena, Md./Northeast) will also battle for time at both guard spots. She averaged 4.6 points and 2.0 rebounds, hit 29 three-pointers and flashed her scoring ability with a career-high 20 points against Pitt-Bradford.

"Tiff’s biggest contributions to the team are her quickness and defense," said Pepple. "She’ll play a vital role in our press."

Senior Holly Myers (York, Pa./York) enters her final season as the school’s all-time leading three-point shooter with 128 treys.

Last year, she averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per contest, set a school record by sinking 58 three-pointers and led the squad with 78 assists. She scored in double-figures 15 times, including a season-high 23 points in a loss to Pitt-Greensburg.

"Holly’s confidence level has been very high this preseason," said Pepple. "She’s capable of scoring 12 to 15 points a game and should feel less pressure to score this year."

Four talented newcomers will give the Bobcats more flexibility and depth in the back court.

Freshman Jessica Smith (LaVale, Md.), a local product from nearby Allegany High School, has shown rapid improvement throughout the preseason.

"Jess is a strong and active defender who is very coachable," said Pepple. "She’s learning every day and has made solid strides."

Twin sisters Melanie and Joanie Herget (Glen Burnie, Md./Old Mill) will push for time at the two-guard. Melanie is a hard-working player who can shoot the three and sees the floor well, while Joanie possesses great fundamentals and is also showing strong improvement.

"Melanie will back up at the two spot and see plenty of action," said Pepple. "Joanie works hard for us and will fight for time."

Sharon Hoffman (Frederick, Md./New Life Christian) will provide added depth and should push for action as the season progresses.

"Sharon will get better the more she plays," Pepple commented. "She just needs time to develop and learn the game."

Pepple, whose Bobcats who were picked third in the AMCC Preseason Coaches Poll behind Penn State Altoona and Pitt-Greensburg, feels her squad should have little problem putting points on the board.

FSU will look to improve its rebounding, defense and turnovers as it attempts to capture its first AMCC title since 2000. The Bobcats were outrebounded by an average of 43.5-39.8 and opponents shot 41.9 percent from the field.

Frostburg State will get tested right away. After kicking off the season by hosting the Jim Crawley Invitational, named for the legendary coach who guided the Bobcats to a 406-188 record from 1978-2001, FSU will face Mary Washington and strong fields at the Marietta and Bethany (W.Va.) tournaments.

The Bobcats will also test their mettle against NAIA opponents Mt. Aloysius and Seton Hill before entering an always tough AMCC slate.

"We’ve got a lot of quality depth at each position, and we’re balanced with seven returners and seven freshman," said Pepple. "The quicker our freshmen learn, the farther we will go."

For further information on this release, contact:

Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD  21532-2303

Telephone: 301-687-4371
Fax: 301-687-4780