Women's Basketball Opens Season on Sunday at No. 22 Georgia
The two teams enter the weekend with Georgia holding a 4-0 edge in the all-time series. The then-ranked No. 10 Bulldogs knocked off the Blue Hose last season in Athens, 66-38. Keyonna Allen–then playing in her second career game–pulled down four rebounds in the effort while Karlee Taylor scored seven points and Kasey Hobbie added six. Prior to last year’s meeting, Georgia grabbed a victory in 2008 (as the seventh-ranked team in the antion) as well as a pair of wins in 1978-79.
The Lady Bulldogs put together an impressive 2012-13 season, going 28-7 with a 11-4 Southeastern Conference record. The team’s season ended with a three-point loss to Cal in the Elite Eight and the nationally-ranked Lady Bulldogs return eight letterwinners and bring on five newcomers. Guard Khaalidah Miller returns as the squad’s lone senior and last season Miller ranked third on the team in scoring, averaging 7.6 points per outing.
Andy Landers returns at the helm of Georgia for his 35th season, sporting a 823-275 (.750) record. Landers arrived at Georgia in 1979 after four seasons at Roane State Community College. Ronny Fisher enters his sixth year as head coach of the Blue Hose, entering Sunday with a 51-97 record. A 1990 graduate of Furman, Fisher, set the school record for wins in the Division I era (19) and Big South wins (14) last season.
PC will take aim at its first ever win against a Southeastern Conference opponent in its ninth meeting. Since beginning the move to Division I, the Blue Hose have played Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia. The Blue Hose will play Auburn this season on December 18 for the first time.
The Blue Hose will look to build off of an historic season in 2012-13, setting new Division I records with a 19-12 record overall and a 14-4 marker in the Big South to tie for second in the league. Six seniors graduated from PC last season, leaving a youthful core that features three seniors in 2013-14, along with one junior, two redshirt sophomores, three true sophomores and five freshmen.
Senior guard Karlee Taylor was named to the Big South Conference All-Preseason Team at the league’s Media Day in October. Taylor became the first-ever Blue Hose to appear on a Big South All-Preseason Team. The senior guard averaged 11.0 points per game last season and ranked second in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, shooting from behind the arc at a 43.8 percent clip. She also earned the league’s Big South Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year award for a 3.73 grade point average as a mathematics major and a secondary education minor. Taylor set the Presbyterian College single-season record last season as well for three-point field-goals with 85 treys.
Predicting the Future
The Blue Hose were predicted to finish seventh in the Big South Conference at the league’s Media Day in October. PC’s seventh-place ranking marks the highest-ever for the program, besting last year’s eighth-place prediction. The Blue Hose finished tied for second in the conference and took the No. 3 seed into last year’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com Big South Conference Championship tournament.
Head coach Ronny Fisher returns for his sixth season as head coach. Fisher was named the Big South Conference’s Coach of the Year last season, PC’s first coach in any sport to achieve that honor. His 51th career win on March 2 (31th win in the Big South) moved him closer to second place in the PC record books. Ranking third in program history, he stands 22 away from by both Randy Randall and Byron Rucker in second.
PC returns home to host North Carolina Central on Thursday, November 18 at 7 p.m. in Templeton Center. The Blue Hose took a 49-37 win from the Eagles last season in Durham, N.C. The game marked the 900th in program history for the Blue Hose and PC evened up the all-time series against NC Central with the result, 2-2. The win also marked the second straight in the series for PC.
Three seniors will lead PC this season in Karlee Taylor, Sherece Smith and Megan Schaaf. Smith played only eight games in 2012-13 due to injury but will be ready to play for her senior campaign. The senior enters the year as the odds-on favorite to handle point guard duties due to her ability to bring the ball up the floor through traffic and her slick passing ability. As a sophomore, Smith ranked second on the team in rebounds per game (5.2) and fourth in points per game (6.0) in 2011-12. Schaaf provides a reliable option for PC in the paint on both ends of the floor. The forward boasted a 46.2 percent shooting percentage last season coming off of the bench and can protect the ball with a shot-blocking frame on defense.
This year’s 14 Blue Hose hail from nine different states, arriving from Florida (Taryn Richard), Georgia (Keyonna Allen, Kendra Talley, Rebecca Walker), Maryland (Megan Schaaf), North Carolina (Karlee Taylor), New Jersey (Noelle Carter, Kasey Hobbie), South Carolina (Sherece Smith, Katelyn Grisillo, Elizabeth Landers), Virginia (Aianna Kelly), Pennsylvania (Kaycie Reffner) and Tennessee (Brooke Rhodes).
Six newcomers join the Blue Hose, a number that includes five freshmen. Sophomore Elizabeth Landers, a star post player at J.L. Mann High School in 2011, transferred to PC last year and practiced but could not play due to NCAA regulations. Five other newcomers join the Blue Hose in freshmen Aianna Kelly, Kaycie Reffner, Brooke Rhodes, Kendra Talley and Rebecca Walker. Kelly helped Woodside (Va.) High School to three district championships and garnered First Team All-District honors while Reffner earned a slew of team awards as the captain of Altoona (Pa.) Area High School.