Despite five seniors graduating in the offseason, the women’s basketball team seeks to improve on a notable season with a winning record of 16-10.
Last year, the Knights were characterized as a youthful and inexperienced team due to a roster that boasted six first-years.
“I think all of them are going to be looked upon to take on more responsibilities of their role this season.” head coach Scott Hemer said about the returning first-years. “I’m hoping the sophomores will take that challenge head-on to make us even better in the positions that we lost.”
One of those sophomores is Shannon McGinnis, who was named ECAC Division III Upstate Women's Basketball Co-Rookie of the Year last year, as well as SUNYAC Women's Basketball Rookie of the Year. She made an immediate impact on the team, scoring the second-most points on the team (264 points) and averaging more than six rebounds a game. The Walworth, N.Y. native also earned third team All-SUNYAC recognition alongside senior Melissa Graham.
As the team’s top scorer from last year with 265 points, Graham is expected to be “one of our primary scorers,” according to Hemer. Along with her consistent play on offense, Graham is expected to shoulder defensive responsibilities.
“[Graham] is also one of our better defenders,” Hemer said. “She will be one of the players on the team … responsible for shutting down a top player from an opposing team.”
This year, Graham also acts as a team captain, alongside senior Nyisha Lewis and junior Lea Sobieraski. The trio of captains will lead the six first-years, whom Hemer described as a “class that is very talented.”
Due to the large amount of young players and small amount of upperclassmen, Hemer said the first-years “are going to be expected to come in this year and not just play in occasional small roles.” Instead, some of them will “be leaned upon to carry significant roles this season.”
While the addition of youth has been refreshing for the team, Hemer said that he will miss last year’s senior class, his first four-year recruiting class.
“They changed the program from a program where mediocrity was acceptable to a program where the culture is [that] we want to be recognized as an elite Division III women’s basketball program in the Northeast,” Hemer said.
Geneseo will test its new structured team against Westminster College in the season opener on Nov. 17.