Whitney Hanley

Named 17th among OVC scoring leaders and second-team all OVC in the 2010-11 season

Nicole Olszewski

Started 26 games and finished third on team in scoring in the 2010-11 season

Meghan Bussabarger

Played in all 33 games, and ranked third in rebounding during 2010-11 season

» By MARLON SCOTT – mscott@my.apsu.edu

The Lady Govs used to be beasts.

For three years straight they earned a spot in the OVC Tournament. For two of those years, they terrorized the rest of the OVC teams in the tournament, earning back-to-back tournament titles.

By the time tournament time came last season, the other coaches and players lost sleep and broke out in cold sweats, not willing to whisper the words “Lady Govs,” hoping by not saying their name, they could somehow avoid them in the tournament.

However, the reign of terror ended in the semifinals of the OVC Tournament last season.

For the first time in three years, the Lady Govs lost a game in the tournament. The rest of the OVC breathed a sigh of relief and are looking forward to a terror-free tournament this season.

The Lady Govs’ goal is to remind the other teams of their beast status.

In her sixth season as the Lady Govs head coach, Carrie Daniels has a squad balanced with experience and new talent.

“We have a lot of players that have been through the trenches with this team,” Daniels said. “A lot of our returners have been a part of two championship teams. They have a little bit of a bitter taste in their mouths, getting beat in the semifinals.”

The Lady Govs will look to fill two crucial positions left by graduating seniors Brooke Faulkner and Dalila Thomas. Faulkner was the team’s most experienced point guard. She averaged 7.6 points per game, made 29 steals and was a scoring threat from long range.

Thomas was the team’s leading shot blocker. She averaged 7.2 points per game.

“I believe every year you determine what you’re losing and then go out and replace those positions. You can’t replace particular players, but you do have to replace the positions,” Daniels said. “We went out and recruited five newcomers this offseason and, while we are never going to replace the players we lost, I believe we’ve got some great women who will come in and make up for the scoring we lost.”

The Lady Govs filled their needs with four freshmen and a junior college transfer this season. Three of the freshmen are guards who will compete to fill Faulkner’s minutes as point guard: Shira Buley, Kristen Steinback and Shelby Olszewski.

They will also compete with the more experienced Leslie Martinez, a junior transfer from Collin County Community College.

Rounding out the new members is 6-foot freshman forward Somalia McKenney.

“I think from day one, the newcomers have come in and the returners have taken them by the hand and tried to show them the ropes and tell them the things they need to know,” Daniels said. “The chemistry is so important off the court, on the court. It is something that can really help a team be successful.”

The Lady Govs will play a challenging non-conference schedule that includes Vanderbilt, Ball State, Belmont, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Florida A&M.

“We definitely have to stay healthy and just continue to improve each and every day,” Daniels said. “That is the one thing we have stressed. We want to see that improvement every day. We don’t want to digress and
go backwards.” TAS