In an era when Stony Brook's athletic teams are enjoying unprecedented success, second-year women's basketball coach Beth O'Boyle has the unenviable task of reviving a program that went 4-26 overall and 1-15 in America East play last season. But with seven new recruits, including four with previous college experience, O'Boyle welcomes the challenge.
"I love it," she said. "It's so energizing. Everyone else is doing well, and it motivates me. What makes it not so daunting is we have the support of our administration . . . I tell recruits, 'You get to be the players that come in and build the program.' And playing in a brand-new arena helps, too. Now they can see the construction."
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The renovation of Stony Brook Arena won't be complete for two years, but O'Boyle believes the facelift for the women's team will move ahead more quickly. "We didn't have a junior class," she said. "We brought in junior-college players for that reason. Both Teasha Harris and Chikilra Goodman were successful junior-college players at point guard. We look at them being able to step in right away and help us."
Sophomore forward Sabre Proctor, who sat out last season after transferring from North Carolina A&T, is another player who could make a major contribution. "Sabre Proctor will be an inside scoring player for us," O'Boyle said.
Scoring was a problem last season. The Seawolves averaged only 43.3 points and managed 50 points or more only seven times. Three returning players who provide experience and some scoring are forward Jessica Previlon (5.5 points, 5.9 rebounds) and guards Dani Klupenger (5.3) and Sam Landers (4.4).
"Jess Previlon had a really good summer," O'Boyle said. "She's in the best shape she's ever been. I expect her to be an inside scoring threat. Sam Landers and Dani Klupenger are both outside shooters. Dani is coming back from wrist surgery on her shooting wrist but we expect her to be full speed."
Two freshmen with a chance to make an early impact are forward Brittany Snow and guard Kim Hanlon. "Snow is really tough on the glass," O'Boyle said. "She can provide a big spark, and the toughness she brings makes her one of the players you like to build around.
"We have more balanced scoring than last year. Our tempo will be more fast-paced. Defense has always been something we take pride in, and I continue to see us do well in that area."