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Amherst College > Athletics > Women's Basketball > 2002-03 Season Preview

Shannon Russell '04
Junior sharpshooter Shannon Russell led the Jeffs in scoring as a sophomore, averaging 12.3 points per game

Veteran Jeffs Eye Return to Postseason

August 13, 2002

2001-02 RECAP
Graduating just one senior from a team that won a school-record 23 games and claimed the NESCAC regular season championship, expectations were high for the 2001-02 Amherst women's basketball team. Despite the absence of two of their best players, junior forward Sarah Walker and junior point guard Sara Bozorg both studying abroad the Jeffs showed promise early on, reeling off four wins in their first five games and winning eight of their first 11 overall, including a string of consecutive home victories against Keene State, Worcester Poly, Western New England and Wellesley College. While Walker returned for the final 16 games, Amherst's fortunes lapsed. The Jeffs dropped their first five conference games and, despite stellar play from Walker, finished the season with an 11-12 record, narrowly missing a berth in the NESCAC Championship Tournament. Nevertheless, head coach Billy McBride's club gained valuable experience and once again returns a fully-stocked veteran roster for the 2002-03 season.

The Jeffs lose just one player to graduation, quad-captain guard Hallison Putnam, who finished her tenure ninth among Amherst's career assist leaders with 146 in four seasons. Putnam tied for seventh in the NESCAC in assists (3.0 apg) as a senior and matched a school record with eight steals in the Jeffs' 63-51 win over Wellesley.

Amherst returns nearly its entire roster, including senior tri-captains Walker, Bozorg and guard/forward Brooke Diamond. Despite missing the first half of last season, the 6' 2" Walker a Second-Team All-NESCAC selection as a sophomore was the Jeffs second-leading rebounder (8.3 rpg) and third-leading scorer (9.0 ppg). She's also Amherst's career leader in blocks with 138 and finished last season as the Jeffs' third all-time leading rebounder with 705. Bozorg was also Second-Team All-NESCAC as a sophomore and should be well rested after sitting out all of last season. She led the NESCAC and finished fourth in the nation with a school-record 174 assists in 2000-01 and paced the conference and finished 20th in the nation with a school-record 110 steals. Diamond is a three-sport standout and a solid role player in the paint, especially on defense. The Jeffs also return five juniors, led by 2001-02 team MVP Shannon Russell, the team's leading scorer and top three-point threat. Russell poured in a team-high 12.3 points per game last season, finished fourth in the NESCAC in three-point field goal percentage (33.0%) and 15th in the nation in three-point field goals per game (2.7). She also hit a school-record eight three-pointers against Clark University and earned Tournament MVP honors at the Goombay Shootout in Nassau, Bahamas, after leading the Jeffs with 15 and 14 points, respectively, in a pair of wins over Colby-Sawyer College. LaShauna Barboza, who filled in admirably at point guard for Bozorg and is one of the team's hardest workers, will join Russell in the frontcourt. The Jeffs also expect big things from 6' 3" junior center Caitlin Farrell, currently fifth among Amherst's all-time blocked shot leaders with 68, and 6' 2" post player Sarah Bergman, who led the team in rebounding (9.1 rpg) and was second in scoring (11.0 ppg) as a sophomore. Bergman will miss the first half of the season while studying abroad. Fellow junior Marissa McGuire has emerged as a defensive stopper, using her 6' 1" frame to shut down both point guards and forwards, while shooting guard Kate Herlihy, the team's lone sophomore, is an accurate shooter who could surface as a scoring threat as the season progresses.

The Jeffs will open a challenging 24-game slate against visiting non-league foe Mount Holyoke College on Tuesday, November 26, with their conference opener against visiting Colby College set for Friday, January 17. Amherst will also take on Westfield State and Western New England at the Pioneer Valley Classic, hosted by Springfield College December 6-7, and will spend the first week of January in California, playing a pair of games against Occidental College and California Lutheran University. The third installment of the eight-team NESCAC Championship Tournament will kick off on Saturday, February 22, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.