LYNDON CENTER, Vt. — With the return of four starters, including 2009-10 North Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Year Donna Lawson, the Lyndon women's basketball program is looking to take several steps forward in the 2010-11 season.
Despite the loss of starting point guard Abby Fadden, head coach Vinnie Maloney feels the Hornets possess the building blocks needed to become a contender within the NAC.
"This season is going to be a progression," he said. "We're a little banged up at the moment and our non-conference schedule is tougher, but we're still excited about the season. It's going to be a big change from the past, but by bumping up the schedule it will be better for us when the conference season begins.
"Conference play is what I'm more concerned about," Maloney continued. "We're ranked in the middle of the pack and a few teams have lost some key seniors. Given that, the ability to move up is certainly there."
Lawson averaged 16.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game last season while White, a sophomore, chipped in 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. LaFont, also a sophomore, tossed in 7.9 points per outing and Barclay, a senior, added 7.6 points per game off the bench.
The foursome along, with soph forward Jasmine Harrington (2.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg), will also be asked to lead a roster that features six players with no collegiate basketball experience.
"Donna will need to play a much bigger role this year," said Maloney. "Coming to the team in the middle of the year it was difficult for her to gel with the team despite the fact she had a lot of points and rebounds. This season she's gelled with the team and become a more complete player.
"Steph has made an amazing improvement for last season," he went on." She's become more of a vocal leader and I'm very excited about that. Naomi is going to move out of the post and back to her original position at guard. That will be a big help to us and to her. As for Danielle, she will conitinue to play her usual role. She's a smart player who does a great deal of things well and that's always good to have on your team."
Joining Lawson and Harrington on the frontline will be freshmen Amanda Martin, Sarah Adams and Morgan Diltz. The three will be counted on heavily to spell the upperclassmen and provide defense and rebounding. Martin recently injured an ankle and her status for the upcoming season is not known at this time.
"Amanda is on crutches at this time and she may need surgery," said Maloney. "Sarah, on the other hand, is strong but a little unpolished. She will definitely get the opportunity to contribute, especially on the defensive end. Both she and Morgan are solid, but a little passive here and there. Once they get accustomed to the physicality of the college game they'll be fine.
"Jasmine is another player in our program who has made great strides in the last several months," he continued. She has come to practice this year with a great attitude and she is working very hard. I'm excited to see what see bring to the floor this season."
Regardless of the team's standing in 2010-11, Maloney, at the very least, is looking to build the foundation of a perennial contender for the NAC title. With a balance of veteran athletes and the influx of a young, hungry freshman class, he feels he has the base on which to build such a program.
"We want to build the program up and get to a competitive level," he said. "We're a bit short right now, but the goal for the next couple years is to get a core of players, set a good, solid base and get to the point we have depth.
"We may struggle a little bit this year offensively, but I'm more worried about playing defense and rebounding," Maloney continued. "I think everything will come together when we get to conference play and that's where it will count the most."