The Rowan women’s basketball team tips off their season this week on their home floor versus Delaware Valley University. Last year’s season opener for the Profs was also against DVU, which Rowan had won 71-67.
A key player not just in that game, but throughout her whole career, was Anyssa Sanchez. Unfortunately, Sanchez graduated last year, leaving a huge spot to fill in the team’s lineup. She will be a huge loss for Rowan as she was a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association All-America honorable mention and a member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) All-Conference first team last season. While also leading the team in scoring, steals and rebounding as well as field goal percentage.
“Anyssa Sanchez is one, if not the most athletic player I’ve ever coached,” said head coach Gabby Lisella. “She leaves very big shoes to fill.”
The biggest candidate to fill those shoes has already established herself as a very good player. Senior guard Summer Crilley returns for her final season for the Profs as a team captain. Crilley was the team’s best three point shooter last season and ranked second in points, rebounds and assists.
All though no longer playing, Mandy Jiang returns as a student assistant coach for the brown and gold. Her passion and dedication to the team has rewarded her the chance to dive into coaching.
“Mandy was the glue of our team,” Lisella said. “She went out of her way constantly to help the freshman and did whatever it took to keep the team together and in a positive mood. Her energy and passion means so much to us.”
Whether you lose players or not, new players always come in. Lisella is excited about the freshman class that has arrived this year at Rowan. Adrianna Blake, Juliette Tobin, Paige Caldwell and Taylor Gardner are the four new faces on the team.
“All the freshman are focused, work hard and have been easy to coach thus far,” Lisella said. “I believe at any point this season all of them can contribute in some way.”
The Profs are excited by the depth on this year’s team, as their style of wanting to press and run up and down the floor all game demands it. Therefore, depth and players being able to play more than one position is critical.
“We want to play at a fast pace and wear teams down,” Lisella said. “That’s our goal, that’s our style. We aren’t going to change that. The intensity level and pace at our practices have been a bit brutal, but it makes it easier for the players to feel comfortable once they are actually playing in the game.”
Lisella seeks her fourth consecutive winning season as she enters her 18th season as head coach. She led Rowan to an 18-9 record in last season, leading the Profs to the Final Four of the NJAC Championship Tournament. Lisella looks to take her team back to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament which they missed out on last season.
“We had a good preseason,” Lisella said. “We have everything in place, now we just need to see where we stand with someone else besides ourselves and we find that out Wednesday night.”
The brown and gold come into the season ranked fourth in the conference via the NJAC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Rowan won their home opener against Delaware Valley University by the score of 86-76. Dominique Peters recorded a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Crilley and Olivia Rulon had 17 and 12 points a piece, respectively.
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