2007-2008 Season Preview
The Trevecca Nazarene University women’s basketball team would appear to have a stacked deck heading into this season. The team returns four all-conference performers in Mariska Reed, Kristin Archie, Jennifer Bognar, and Abbie Lawson who helped the team reach a third consecutive Elite Eight appearance at the NAIA National Tournament.
Reed, a senior from Nashville, Tenn., was also decorated with honorable mention All-American honors as well as making the NAIA Scholar-Athlete and TranSouth Scholar-Athlete lists. Archie, a senior from Father Ryan High School, was recognized on the TranSouth All-Tournament Team. Bognar, a junior from Hillsboro High School, was tabbed as the TranSouth Player of the Week while setting a school record by hitting all 16 free throw attempts in the game at Blue Mountain. Lawson, a sophomore from Cheatham County, was named to the NAIA and TranSouth All-Tournament teams as well as making the TranSouth All-Freshman team.
2007-2008 Style of Play
Coach Van Atta says the style of play this year will be even more up-tempo than last year. He noted, “We will continue to move in the direction we did a year ago and drive the tempo even faster. We have incredible depth at the guard positions and a pair of point guards that are now experienced and know when to kick it up and back it off. We will put even more emphasis on the defensive end by turning the pressure up and looking to produce more fast break baskets. Additionally there will be even more emphasis on three point shooting due to both our returning and incoming talent.”
When one looks down the roster, the three point shooting ability stands out. The team returns five of the top six three point threats and adds three more legitimate three-point menaces. The additions start with Casey Pigue, a transfer from NCAA Division 1 Arkansas Little Rock following her high school career at Mt. Juliet. Mix in a pair of freshmen long range sharp shooters in K.C. Van Atta from Mt. Juliet High School and Chelsey Taylor of Upperman High School and you arguably have the deepest three point shooting team in school history. Opposing defenses will likely see five serious three point shooters regularly on the court at the same time this year.
Coach Van Atta continues, “When I look down our roster I see depth at every position, which means when we go to the bench there won’t be a drop in play. This will allow us to turn up the defensive pressure and give opposing teams different looks on a regular basis. In practice our starters are facing a team that is as good as some of the teams that are on our schedule. That’s a great asset to have in any program.”
The team returns eight of the top nine scorers and nearly 90% of the offense from last season.
Coach Van Atta is extremely happy at the point guard position, “Most schools are lucky to find a point guard, we have two that bring entirely different strength’s to our team that help us be successful. With their diverse assets they allow us to present different offensive personalities on the floor which makes it incredibly difficult for our opponents to prepare for us. A real bonus is that they each can replicate the others style when asked to do so.”
With the depth, especially at guard, opponents can expect to see more pressing and trapping from the Trojans this season. The goal will be to make it difficult for teams to get into their half-court offense and then make it challenging for them to run their half court offense if they do.
The guards will be led by seniors Archie and Reed. Archie will be a defensive stopper and will attack the basket on offense in the right moments. She has improved her three point shot. Reed is an all around defensive player for TNU by getting rebounds and steals. Offensively she can stretch a defense and has the ability to pull up and shoot over a defender. Christian Gibson started every game at the point position as a true freshman and brings leadership, ball protection and has taken her offensive threat to another level this year. Casey Attebury started half of the games last year as a freshman and has improved her familiarity with the team. This will result in a higher assist-to-turnover ratio this year. Her confidence in her shooting ability has improved. Lawson is the team’s best all-around athlete and has improved her jump shot over the summer. She has a great knack for defense and as she builds on her national tournament performance from a year ago and gains total control of her game, she will be on her way to being one the top guards in the country. Casey Pigue, a freshman with four years of eligibility remaining, was a mid-season transferred last year and will bring energy, defense, and three point shooting to the team. Chelsey Taylor, who is a true freshman, will definitely see the court this year. She is a big guard with the ability to play all guard positions and was a five year starter at prep powerhouse Upperman High School.
Angelica Sails is a red-shirt freshman who has improved her shot and possesses tremendous athletic ability. Her rebounding and defensive skills will earn her playing time this year. K.C. Van Atta is a tremendous three point shooter and is one of five members of the 2006 TSSAA AAA State Champions Mt. Juliet High School on this year’s team. She made over 100 three pointers as a senior for the Bears and will add depth, range and versatility both offensively and defensively to the team. Jessica Bowling, a 6’0” wing player from Lincoln County, will be red-shirting this season.
Jennifer Bognar continues to provide strong post play. She has improved her shooting range and is now a legitimate three point option. She has become a more physical inside hazard for opposing teams. MyRanda Wright provides depth at the post and is especially effective defensively and as a rebounder. Paige McFarlin is an offensive weapon for the Trojans and is a very versatile scorer. She can shoot the 15 foot midrange jumper as well as anyone and is also a three-point alternative. Jessica Spencer, a 6’2” post has improved tremendously during her red-shirt season and shows continual improvement. As her conditioning improves and she runs the floor she’ll become more offensive minded.
The schedule is tougher than last year’s slate. The opening road trip is to sister Nazarene school Olivet , which is home to one of the nations leading scoring teams. They will challenge any team with their unique style of five on and five substitutions. The schedule has a large gap from the 10th of November to the 7th of December. It gives the coaching staff the opportunity to play a few games and essentially have a second preseason conditioning camp to correct any weakness revealed in the few opening games. From there the schedule goes straight through to the National Tournament beginning with NAIA Division II runner-up College of the Ozarks at the Cumberland University tournament. Trevecca will then face the winner of the Berry College/Ohio Dominican game. Nationally ranked Georgetown College is on the schedule along with a trip west to the “Golden State Athletic Conference Challenge: where the team will face perennial powers Azusa Pacific and The Master's College. Then the team will turn its attention to what most feel is the toughest conference in the NAIA, the TranSouth Athletic Conference. Their round robin conference schedule will include games against four or five teams that traditionally have been nationally ranked.
With that challenging schedule the team will have to rely on their “Stacked Deck” and depth to get back for what would be their ninth consecutive trip to the NAIA National Tournament.