Basketball is in the air, and the Sonoma State University women’s team is ready to wreak havoc on any team it may face during the 2017-2018 season.
Armed with new head coach and former men’s associate head coach Rich Shayewitz, the Seawolves looked relaxed, standing from free-throw line to free-throw line, enjoying every moment with one another as they continued preparing for their opening game against Chico State.
“I want them to enjoy being with each other, I want them to enjoy one another’s company and ultimately, I want them to have fun and thrive as a unit,” Shayewitz said. “I think the overall looseness you saw on the court today is reflective of this group’s cohesiveness — it’s just a culture we’re trying to get to.”
With Shayewitz at the helm, his experience will be a driving force in reviving a program that hasn’t finished with a winning record since going 20-10 overall during the 2007-08 season.
As an 11-season associate head coach with the men’s team, his attention as a defensive-minded coach will do wonders for a squad that finished third in the CCAA in defensive scoring, only allowing 59.8 average points per game to their opponent.
On the other side of the ball, last year’s offense had its struggles – finishing eighth in scoring with an average points per game of 62.3.
If the defense performs the way it did last year, and the offensive firepower kicks into gear this year, a top-five conference finish could potentially be on the horizon for the up-and-coming Seawolves.
Of course, a top-five finish will ultimately play itself out on the court, but there’s another aspect that can help win basketball games; health. As this team looks poised to make a run this year, remaining healthy is something Shayewitz believes to be key to unlocking his team’s potential.
“Most importantly, we really need to remain healthy this year,” Shayewitz said. “We have two players coming off ACL injuries, and two additional players that have had ACL injuries prior to this season as well.”
“Women’s basketball is somewhat new to me, but when I look down at the benches of the teams that were successful in our conference, towards the end of the year they had full rosters – we finished the year with eight. Our health will be a big factor with how far we can go,” he said.
Aside from health, seniors ready to take the conference by storm load this team. Two players in particular, senior point guard Carly Gill and senior guard Madison Burroughs will be vital pieces in leading this year’s team through the treacherous valleys of the conference.
Gill, an Orinda native, averaged 8.8 points per game last season, while dishing out 60 assists and appearing in 27 games. Her skills as a point guard will be necessary in running the offense, playing with the ability to facilitate and create open shots for her teammates.
As for Burroughs, her performance last season earned her second team All-CCAA honors, a distinction handed out at the end of the season to the league’s best athletes.
As a junior, she started in all 27 games for the Seawolves, compiling 12.3 average points per game, 73 assists, 64 steals, three blocks and a robust .483 shooting percentage. Her ability to score and drive to win make her a valuable asset heading into this season.
“Madison does it all,” Shayewitz said. “She’s really fast, and she’s improved her perimeter game as a shooter. So, I think she has a chance to have a really good season this year.”
To kick off the fresh season, Sonoma State will pack the Wolves’ Den for the CCAA/PACWEST Challenge, beginning Friday through Saturday against Chico State, Dominican University and Notre Dame De Namur.
Following the tournament, the Seawolves will take on Holy Names on Tuesday at home. The game will begin at 6 p.m.