Women’s team in ‘good hands’

Guard Tika Koshiyama-Diaz defends teammate Ashley Garcia during practice at the Hornets Nest.:


Guard Tika Koshiyama-Diaz defends teammate Ashley Garcia during practice at the Hornets Nest.:

Britney Rossman

Sacramento State’s Women’s Basketball team feels confident about the upcoming season despite its difficult schedule.

The preseason began for the Hornets on Oct. 15 with the first official practice. Eleven veteran players, a redshirt and three freshmen took the floor for the first time without former head coach Dan Muscatell.

Jamie Craighead was appointed to the head coaching position this season.

The team achieved a school record of seven wins (7-9) in the Big Sky Conference and a 9-21 overall record last season. The Hornets also made a late-season push to qualify for the Big Sky Conference Tournament, only to lose to Idaho State in overtime of the Big Sky Tournament quarterfinals.

Regardless of last season’s success, Sac State was predicted to finish eighth out of nine teams in the 2009-10 Big Sky preseason coaches poll.

Sac State junior power forward Emily Christensen said the Hornets are not paying attention to the polls.

“We are so underestimated in our conference and I believe we are going to surprise everyone. I think this is going to be a great season for us,” Christensen said. “We have such a hardworking team and an awesome new system of how we’re going to play.”

Sac State junior guard Jasmine Cannady believed the chemistry on this season’s team will lead to more success.

“I am proud of the fact that we are a very close team. We are a lot older with 11 returning players, and our camaraderie is amazing,” Cannady said.

Craighead disagreed with the poll as well.

“If I remember correctly I believe we were picked to finish eighth this season. I honestly do not believe that we will prove that to be true. I’m pretty confident that we have the ability to finish in the top three,” she said.

The top three teams listed for the 2009-10 Big Sky season include Portland State, Montana and Montana State. Each of these teams defeated Sac State by double-digits last season, excluding the first competition against Montana, when the Hornets won 88-86 in overtime.

With the loss of head coach Dan Muscatell, the Hornets look to adapt to the new coaching techniques. Other Big Sky teams believe the Hornets will be improved this season.

Weber State University head coach Carla Taylor believes that despite losing Muscatell, the Sac State women’s basketball program is in good condition.

“I think that Muscatell did an outstanding job building up the program and that he has left it in good hands with Jamie,” Taylor said. “Jamie will have a strong base to build off of and has as good of shot as any this season to make it to the Big Sky Conference Championship – she’s obviously ready and more than capable to take the reins.”

University of Montana head coach Robin Selvig was optimistic about Craighead’s head coaching career and believed that the Hornets will do well in conference play.

“One of the interesting things when you get a brand new face in a head coaching position is that you really don’t know what to expect.”

Britney Rossman can be reached at [email protected]