Shooting for high goals

Marcus Traxler

Marcus TraxlerAssistant Sports Editor

After losing three important seniors at the end of last season and making their second consecutive NCAA Tournament, opportunity presents itself for the SDSU women’s basketball team.

However, head coach Aaron Johnston, entering his eleventh season with the Jackrabbits, likes where the team is headed, despite the fact the team lost Maria Boever, Ketty Cornemann and Alison Anderson. In fact, Johnston admitted that in some parts, the Jacks are ahead of last year’s team.

“We have more [plays] in offensively,” Johnston said. “Because of the new rules allowing us to practice more 5-on-5, we’ve been able to put more in. Our freshmen have picked things up; we only have two this year, last year we had five new faces and that’s where I think we’re ahead.”

The Jackrabbits return with three starters from last year’s team, two coming from the backcourt. Kristin Rotert, a preseason all-Summit League first team selection, and Macie Michelson should be a solid presence to help pace the offense. Rotert will likely be the Jackrabbits’ go-to player early and was among the team leaders in scoring three-pointers and steals last season. Michelson, who had foot surgery in the offseason, will likely miss the first couple weeks of the season while she recovers.

Jennie Sunnarborg is also a returning starter for the Jacks and poses difficulties for opponents on both ends of the court as a solid inside presence and potent shot blocker. Helping her will be Leah Dietel, Katie Lingle and Jennifer Schuttloffel at the forward position.

Jill Young will add the point guard duties to her sharpshooting role to start the season and has shown great growth early in the season in a position that is relatively new to her.

“Personally, I’m just trying to be more aggressive than I was last year and just be one of the scorers on the team, but also try to bring intensity to practice,” Young said.

The Jacks bring on two freshmen for the 2010-2011 season, with Minnesotans Megan Waytashek and Hannah Strop looking to make an impact early. Both missed time this preseason with concussions but are promising talents.

“The freshmen bring a lot of energy, and they’ve fit in really well so far,” Young said. “They’ve been doing really good and I think they’re going to help us a lot this year.”

SDSU has not been shy in scheduling quality non-conference competition, both home and away in recent years. The Jacks will make trips to play Middle Tennessee State, Washington State, Kansas State and Arkansas-Little Rock on the road. Arizona State, Iowa and Illinois State will also make trips to Frost Arena this season.

“Our schedule is tough right off the bat, and you can’t really overlook any of our opponents,” Rotert said. “Coming out it’s going to be a tough test to see exactly where we’re at.”

SDSU was chosen to finish second behind Oral Roberts and followed by Oakland, IPFW and NDSU to round out the preseason top five in the Summit League.

Johnston said the Jacks still have some things they would like to figure out early in the year.

“We’ll have to identify our leaders, identify our team toughness and those gritty players,” Johnston said. “Every team early in the year takes some time to sort that out, and I think that toughness idea is still one of the questions we still have going into the year.”

As for another run to the NCAA Tournament, Young said it is an expectation.

“One of our expectations is to get back to the NCAA Tournament, and our goal is advance further than we have before,” Young said.

#1.1766807:1728841409.jpg:Women’s Basketball Ryan Robinson 14.jpg::Collegian Photo by Ryan Robinson