The 2007-2008 West Chester University Lady Rams basketball team had their season end on March 7, 2008 falling to eventual Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Champion Indiana University (PA) 81-60.A season in which the Lady Rams lost star forward Katie Kline before division play began, West Chester finished with the same division record as last year (9-3). They also finished one win shy of twenty victories. West Chester finished second in PSAC East behind Millersville who finished with an undefeated conference record.
“I am very happy with the results this season,” Head Coach Deirdre Kane said. “Especially after losing Katie Kline. We didn’t quite meet expectations. We wanted to win the PSAC East and make it to the PSAC Championship.”
This season was also full of history, good and bad. On Jan. 23, Cheyney University snapped a 16-year, 33-game losing streak against the Lady Rams when they defeated West Chester at Cope Hall 65-60. But on March 4, West Chester defeated Cheyney for the programs 600th all-time victory.
More milestones were met when senior Captain Catherine Andrews finished her West Chester career fourth on the all-time three-point field goals made (87) and fourth on the school’s all-time three-point field goals attempted (320). Andrews was also named to the PSAC Eastern Division’s second team. She ranked second on the team averaging 11.2 points per game and her 117 assists led the team.
Also, freshman point guard Megan Stewart became the first freshman in West Chester history to finish with 103 assists. Stewart also led the league in assist to turnover ratio at +1.81. She also averaged 6.8 points per game and three rebounds per contest.
Dana Weems, a transfer from Harcum Junior College, was instrumental in the success of the Lady Rams this year. She started playing guard, but the versatile player ended up playing the forward position when Kline went down to an injury. Weems finished the season leading West Chester in scoring (12 points per game) and second in rebounding (7.3 per game). She was also selected by the basketball coaches as the PSAC Eastern Division Athlete of the Year and to the league’s first team.
Sophomore center Janelle Garber, also named to the PSAC East’s second team, averaged 10.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. With the absence of Kline, Garber stepped up to the challenge and took on all comers throughout the year.
The Lady Rams will have a new look next season as Andrews, Kline and Amanda Vitzakovitch will be lost to graduation, but the nucleus of this year’s PSAC East runner up remains in tact.
“Andrews has great leadership and had her best season ever,” Kane said. “She was fun to watch and be around. Vitzakovitch is the ultimate team player who adjusted well to her role of coming off the bench. Kline is a great student. She’s an excellent player and I think she got a raw deal from the NCAA by not being given another year. She showed tremendous maturity in dealing with adversity this year. She is very inspirational to our players.”
Kane will be working hard to recruit players who will fit her system well and blend in with the current group.
“We need a consistent outside shooter,” Kane said. “A slasher and good passer as well as some inside help. Allison Hostetter, who redshirted this year, will be playing. She is a slasher and a passer. We also have a commitment from a post player from Pottsville Nativity who has range and can pass.”
Kane is using this off season to continue to build on the strong foundation she has already laid. The veteran head coach already has lofty expectations for 2008-09.
“We want to win the PSAC East,” Kane said of the expectations for next year. “We also want to play in the PSAC Championship game.”
With Shippensburg University moving into the PSAC East next year, things will be tougher for every team playing in the division currently. What was a two-team race this year (West Chester and Millersville), will now become a three-team race to the very end.
“[Shippensburg] will battle for first place,” Kane said. “It will be harder to make the playoffs but it will increase the strength of the East.”
Kane also deserves credit for the way she was able to guide her team to the success they had throughout the season. When things got tough she never panicked and that gave the team the confidence to get through. anything together.
Below are this year’s edition of the annual season ending awards presented by The Quad, as selected by LJ Harrell and Mike Heiman.
Rookie of the Year
Megan Stewart. The freshman point guard would not relinquish her starting spot after scoring a team and career high 21 points against eventual PSAC Champion IUP on Jan 21.
Most Improved Player
Renata Neal. After not playing much during her freshman year, Neal filled in admirably when Garber was injured. In a late season start against Bloomsburg, Neal scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the Lady Rams.
Sixth Man of the Year
Natalie Winters. A sharp shooter from the outside Winters could hit the big shot whenever needed. Against Cheyney in the opening round of the PSAC playoffs, the junior scored a career-high 20 points as West Chester defeated their rivals.
Defensive Player of the Year
Catherine Andrews. The senior captain averaged 2.32 steals per game and 3.1 rebounds per game to lead the Lady Rams into the playoffs this season.
Offensive Player of the Year
Janelle Garber. The sophomore center averaged 10.5 points per game. The Lady Rams offense ran more efficiently with Garber in the game.
Most Valuable Player
Dana Weems. The junior college transfer made immediate impact on the Lady Rams. Even though it took time to get acclimated into the scheme, Weems became a double-double machine even though she was playing undersized at the forward position for most of the year.
Coach of the Year
Head Coach Deirdre Kane. Credit goes out to Coach Kane for continuing to guide the program in the right direction. West Chester has now amassed 600 victories all-time and with Kane leading the charge, many more victories are bound to follow.
LJ Harrell is a second-year student majoring in business. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.