Nov. 15, 2009
Villanova will be looking to build off the momentum of last season when the Wildcats went 19-14 overall, finished tied for fourth in the Big East Conference with a 10-6 mark and earned an at large bid to the NCAA Tournament. To have success in 2009-10, Villanova will need to replace three of its top four scorers who accounted for 57.2 percent of the team's scoring from a year ago. The Wildcats will look to their seven returning letterwinners to lead the way this season.
The Wildcats have the unenviable task of trying to replace two 1,000 point scorers at the forward spots as Laura Kurz and Lisa Karcic have both been lost to graduation. Both Kurz and Karcic are currently playing professionally in Greece. Kurz turned in an outstanding senior season last year for Villanova. She averaged a team-best 17.4 points per game, a team-high 7.2 rebounds per contest, a team-best 45.2 percent shooting from the floor, in addition to recording a team-high 42 blocked shots. Kurz also ranked third on the team in three-point field goals with 44 and she became just the second player in program history to score 1,000 points in just two seasons. For her efforts last year, Kurz was a unanimous first team All-Big East performer. She was also named the Philadelphia Big Five Player of the Year.
Karcic finished her Wildcat career ranked 20th all time in scoring with 1,031 points. As a senior last year, she averaged 6.5 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per contest and she finished second on the team in three-point field goals made with 45. Karcic ended her Main Line career with 190 made three-point field goals.
"We were hit hard at the forward position by graduation," said Wildcat head coach Harry Perretta. "Laura was such a great offensive player. She could score in so many ways and because of this we had a lot of options available to us on the offensive end of the floor. Lisa was a perfect mismatch player. Due to her three-point shooting ability we would play her at center and force the other team's post player to guard her on the perimeter. We will look to Amanda to be a leader at the forward spot this year. She will need to use her knowledge of the system to help the younger kids as they try and gain experience."
Villanova will look to a junior and three redshirt freshmen to fill the void at forward. Junior Amanda Swiezynski (6-0, Exeter, N.H.) showed good improvement late last season and looks ready for significant minutes this season. An intelligent player with great passing skills, Swiezynski has the ability to step outside and shoot the three-ball.
The redshirt freshmen trio of Megan Pearson (6-0, West Chester, Pa.), Laura Sweeney (6-2, Marlton, N.J.) and Emily Suhey (6-1, Boalsburg, Pa.) will all be in the mix for playing time at the forward spots. Pearson is an outstanding three-point shooter who has great basketball instincts. Sweeney is a highly skilled performer who can score inside and outside, while Suhey is a tireless worker with a good feel for the game.
The position where Villanova has the most experience is at guard, as the Wildcats return three of their top four backcourt performers from a year ago, including Maria Getty (5-9, Centerville, Ohio), Kyle Dougherty (5-10, Sayre, Pa.) and Tia Grant (5-11, Lido Beach, N.Y.). All three are fifth year seniors who bring a wealth of game experience to the young Wildcats. Villanova's top guard entering 2009-10 appears to be Getty. She has started 94 of the 95 games she has played in during her career. Last year, Getty led the team in three-point field goals made with 50 and she ranked second on the team in scoring at 8.3 points per game. She also finished second on the team in both assists with 65 and steals with 27.
Dougherty is a skilled player with good passing skills. She started 27 of the final 28 games at the point last year and looks to be the leading candidate to earn the starting point guard spot this season. Dougherty is a very accurate mid range jump shooter. Grant is one of the team's best all-around athletes. Her combination of size and quickness allows her to play the two-guard and small forward positions. Last season, she averaged 4.9 points per game and was one of the team's top three-point shooters connecting on 33-of-82 for 40.2 percent from long range. Sophomore Sara Jones (5-9, Philadelphia, Pa.) will also be in the mix in the Wildcat backcourt rotation. Jones is a physical guard who has natural basketball instincts. She played in 25 games a season ago and should use the experience she gained to earn more minutes this year.
Villanova also has three incoming freshmen who will compete for playing time in the backcourt. The three include Jesse Carey (5-10, Chalfont, Pa.), Devon Kane (5-9, Springfield, Pa.) and Rachel Roberts (5-9, Marlborough, Conn.).
"The guard spot is without a doubt our most experienced position," said Perretta. "Maria, Tia and Kyle are all fifth-year seniors who know what it takes to play in the Big East on a nightly basis. We are going to rely on these three to be the foundation of the team this year. I am confident that they will have very good senior seasons."
The center position will be held by the junior tandem of Heather Scanlon (6-3, Drexel Hill, Pa.) and Shannon Elliott (6-2, Wilmington, Del.). Scanlon will provide the Wildcats with versatility at the center position. In addition to possessing strong post moves, Scanlon also has the ability to step outside and shoot the three-point shot. She also has a very high basketball IQ and is one of the team's top defenders. As a sophomore last year, she averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.5 rebounds per contest and she shot 42.3 percent from the floor.
Elliott started 24 of 32 games last year. She is an active player who plays hard all the time. A good rebounder, she also has shooting range that extends to the three-point line.
"I think we are in good shape at the center spot," stated Perretta. "Heather and Shannon give us a good two player rotation. Heather has a good feel for the game and is one of our best defensive players. Shannon always plays with a lot of energy and she is very active on the backboards. I also like the fact that both players can step outside and shoot the three."
Villanova play a 29-game schedule in 2009-10, including 16 Big East Conference contests and four Philadelphia Big Five match-ups.
The 2009-10 campaign tips-off on Monday, Nov. 16, with a road contest at Sacred Heart. Villanova returns two days later on Nov. 18 for its home opener against Big Five foe Penn. The Wildcats will also play at Massachusetts on Nov. 22. Villanova will spend its Thanksgiving holiday at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga Tournament. Evansville will be the team's first round opponent. Kennesaw State and host Tennessee Chattanooga round out the tournament field.
December begins on the road at Lehigh (Dec. 5) before the Wildcats return to the Main Line for back-to-back home games against Saint Joseph's (Dec. 9) and Binghamton (Dec. 11). Villanova will play two Big Five road contests in three days before the Christmas holiday. The `Cats are at Temple on Dec. 20 and at La Salle on Dec. 22.
Villanova will host the Wildcat Holidaa Classic on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29. The first round pairings include Villanova versus San Francisco and Drexel versus Loyola (Md.). Villanova's last non conference game will be played on Jan. 21 when the Wildcats host George Washington.
In Big East play, Villanova will play each conference opponent once with the exception of Providence who the Wildcats will play home and home. Villanova will host Seton Hall, Georgetown, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Providence, Marquette, Connecticut and Rutgers. The Wildcats will play at Notre Dame, Cincinnati, DePaul, St. John's, South Florida, West Virginia, Louisville and Providence.