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TMC women's basketball preview: A sense of progression

Nationally ranked Mustangs have ambitious intentions for this season

Posted: December 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 10, 2012 1:55 a.m.

TMC women's basketball players, from left, Whitney Best, Zoe Scott, Lena Rivera, Theresa Brown and Jacquelyn Marshal provide a solid foundation for a promising 2012-13 team which is ranked No. 14 in NAIA Division I coaches' poll.

 

After a disappointing 2011-12 season saw The Master’s College women’s basketball team fall in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament after finishing eighth in the final standings, TMC is already back respect this season.

TMC is ranked No. 14 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I national poll and is 7-0 to start the season.

Two of those wins came over ranked opponents at the Westminster Fall Classic in Salt Lake City, a 73-62 win over then-No. 5 Westminster and a 62-49 win over then-No. 15 Lewis-Clark State of Idaho.

The hope is, according to TMC head coach Dan Waldeck, that the high level of preseason competition will help in the ultra-competitive GSAC.

In addition to the Mustangs, the GSAC boats No. 3 Vanguard, No. 5 Westmont, No. 22 Biola and San Diego Christian (receiving votes).

“It’s tough. You have some of the teams at the top that are as good as you will find in the country,” Waldeck said. “And we’re really competitive in the middle of the conference as well. You have to be able to bring your focus every night.”

In addition to a core group of returners — including sophomore point guard Whitney Best and guards Zoe Scott (junior) and Lena Rivera (senior), the Mustangs have benefited from the introduction of UC Irvine transfer Jacquelyn Marshall.

“We have a really great group of new players, but for sure Marshall has been a huge component to our team,” Rivera said. “She brings a lot of great talent.”

Marshall, a 6-foot-2 junior power forward, leads the team in both points and rebounds at 12.4 and six per game, respectively.

Coupled with the return of senior center Theresa Brown, the duo has helped the Mustangs build a strong inside presence to complement the return of its veteran guards.

“Our team is really taking what the defense gives us and, early on, teams have tried to take Jackie or Theresa away,” Waldeck said. “Almost every game we’ve had a different leading scorer. Our team’s unselfishness is amazing.”

Best, who established herself last season as a freshman, returns to lead the TMC attack.

She is averaging 8.7 points per game, and her 30 assists lead the team.

“She’s developed tremendously this year,” Waldeck said. “She is really improved. Teams will try to key on her and she’s getting better and better. She’s really going to be outstanding for us.”

Her progression will be key in playing the kind of fast-paced style Waldeck wants to run this season.

“We want to play pretty up-tempo and thus far it’s been a little bit of a challenge just because we’ve played basically four really good teams,” Waldeck said. “So it’s been a little bit harder to get into the 80s, but we still score up in the 60s or 70s. As we hit our stride we’ll run more and score more.”

But their success doesn’t end if they need to slow things down.

“We have some really good post play as well as guard action,” Rivera said. “We want to run and gun, but we know when to slow the tempo down and get the ball inside. There’s a wide range.”

Their aggressiveness shows on the defensive end, as well — aided in large part by the team’s depth.

“It lets us be more aggressive because foul trouble doesn’t hurt us quite as bad,” Waldeck said. “It allows us to get more aggressive defensively. When you look down the bench you have a couple more kids you can go to to find those answers.”

Rivera leads the team with 24 steals and Marshall (42) and Brown (36) are leading the team in defensive rebounds.

For a team that entered the season with a bitter taste in its mouth, missing out on the NAIA national tournament last season, things are looking up around The Master’s College.

“It’s been a super enjoyable start to the season,” Rivera said. “We’ve had some tough games where we had to bounce back, but overall we’ve shown our character now and we’ve learned a lot already. I think we have proven to ourselves and everyone else that we’re underrated and we know we can do a lot better than the expectations that were put on us.”

The team returns to the court Saturday with their second straight game against William Jessup (TMC defeated the Warriors 74-62 on Dec. 1).

Saturday’s game is the first of four straight and five of six non-conference games at home before opening up GSAC play with another home game on Jan. 8 against Hope International.

The Mustangs will close the regular season against Hope International on the road on Feb. 23.

But unlike last year, they expect the next step to be the team’s first trip to the national tournament since 2008.

“Especially for me, this is my last year, to go to the national tournament is our main goal,” Rivera said. “And we say we want to win it all, and some don’t know what that takes yet. But that is what we want and prove — we can get back there and be successful.”

By Jon Stein

Signal Staff Writer



After a disappointing 2011-12 season saw The Master’s College women’s basketball team fall in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament after finishing eighth in the final standings, TMC is already back respect this season.

TMC is ranked No. 14 in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I national poll and is 7-0 to start the season.

Two of those wins came over ranked opponents at the Westminster Fall Classic in Salt Lake City, a 73-62 win over then-No. 5 Westminster and a 62-49 win over then-No. 15 Lewis-Clark State of Idaho.

The hope is, according to TMC head coach Dan Waldeck, that the high level of preseason competition will help in the ultra-competitive GSAC.

In addition to the Mustangs, the GSAC boats No. 3 Vanguard, No. 5 Westmont, No. 22 Biola and San Diego Christian (receiving votes).

“It’s tough. You have some of the teams at the top that are as good as you will find in the country,” Waldeck said. “And we’re really competitive in the middle of the conference as well. You have to be able to bring your focus every night.”

In addition to a core group of returners — including sophomore point guard Whitney Best and guards Zoe Scott (junior) and Lena Rivera (senior), the Mustangs have benefited from the introduction of UC Irvine transfer Jacquelyn Marshall.

“We have a really great group of new players, but for sure Marshall has been a huge component to our team,” Rivera said. “She brings a lot of great talent.”

Marshall, a 6-foot-2 junior power forward, leads the team in both points and rebounds at 12.4 and six per game, respectively.

Coupled with the return of senior center Theresa Brown, the duo has helped the Mustangs build a strong inside presence to complement the return of its veteran guards.

“Our team is really taking what the defense gives us and, early on, teams have tried to take Jackie or Theresa away,” Waldeck said. “Almost every game we’ve had a different leading scorer. Our team’s unselfishness is amazing.”

Best, who established herself last season as a freshman, returns to lead the TMC attack.

She is averaging 8.7 points per game, and her 30 assists lead the team.

“She’s developed tremendously this year,” Waldeck said. “She is really improved. Teams will try to key on her and she’s getting better and better. She’s really going to be outstanding for us.”

Her progression will be key in playing the kind of fast-paced style Waldeck wants to run this season.

“We want to play pretty up-tempo and thus far it’s been a little bit of a challenge just because we’ve played basically four really good teams,” Waldeck said. “So it’s been a little bit harder to get into the 80s, but we still score up in the 60s or 70s. As we hit our stride we’ll run more and score more.”

But their success doesn’t end if they need to slow things down.

“We have some really good post play as well as guard action,” Rivera said. “We want to run and gun, but we know when to slow the tempo down and get the ball inside. There’s a wide range.”

Their aggressiveness shows on the defensive end, as well — aided in large part by the team’s depth.

“It lets us be more aggressive because foul trouble doesn’t hurt us quite as bad,” Waldeck said. “It allows us to get more aggressive defensively. When you look down the bench you have a couple more kids you can go to to find those answers.”

Rivera leads the team with 24 steals and Marshall (42) and Brown (36) are leading the team in defensive rebounds.

For a team that entered the season with a bitter taste in its mouth, missing out on the NAIA national tournament last season, things are looking up around The Master’s College.

“It’s been a super enjoyable start to the season,” Rivera said. “We’ve had some tough games where we had to bounce back, but overall we’ve shown our character now and we’ve learned a lot already. I think we have proven to ourselves and everyone else that we’re underrated and we know we can do a lot better than the expectations that were put on us.”

The team returns to the court Saturday with their second straight game against William Jessup (TMC defeated the Warriors 74-62 on Dec. 1).

Saturday’s game is the first of four straight and five of six non-conference games at home before opening up GSAC play with another home game on Jan. 8 against Hope International.

The Mustangs will close the regular season against Hope International on the road on Feb. 23.

But unlike last year, they expect the next step to be the team’s first trip to the national tournament since 2008.

“Especially for me, this is my last year, to go to the national tournament is our main goal,” Rivera said. “And we say we want to win it all, and some don’t know what that takes yet. But that is what we want and prove — we can get back there and be successful.”

jstein@signalscv.com

661-287-5536

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