Extremely early returns suggest that the NYIT women’s basketball team will be hard to beat this winter. Yes, it was one exhibition game, but the Bears played Fordham tough Thursday night, falling to the defending Atlantic-10 champions, 57-49.
Though, once the regular season gets going on Nov. 9 against Adelphi, moral victories in meaningless games against Division I opponents will be a thing of the past. NYIT is looking for real, unequivocal victories, and they figure to grab a whole bunch.
As the defending East Coast Conference tournament champions, NYIT is coming off its first postseason title in program history and a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament that saw them fall in the opening round to Philadelphia’s University of the Sciences.
With their entire starting lineup intact, the Bears are hungry for more success.
“We only lost two players, so it’s a lot of the same team chemistry,” said junior forward Meg Knollmeyer. “…We have a lot going for us this year, it’s just a matter of getting everybody to play on the same page.”
Those in the know believe in the Bears. NYIT, who went 23-9 last year, was voted first in the ECC preseason poll and Knollmeyer was named the league’s Preseason Player of the Year.
“They’re pros and cons,” said Knollmeyer, who was named MVP of last season’s ECC tournament. “Obviously, I love the title and that all the coaches in the conferences think that highly of me. But, now I know that teams will be focusing more on me. I assume they’ll be focusing on other players as well, but having that title on my back is a little more pressure.”
NYIT was also ranked eighth in the D2SIDA East Region preseason poll. Adelphi is tenth.
Knollmeyer ranked fifth in the ECC in scoring with 14.9 points per game and fourth in rebounds per game (8.8) last season. She said she’s looking to become a better ball handler and strengthen her outside game.
“Just so I could come out this season with something that people might not be expecting,” she said.
While Knollmeyer and the Bears aren’t looking past anyone in the ECC, there is a belief that something special could be brewing in Old Westbury.
“Early on, I think everyone has the expectation of winning a national championship,” coach Kenny Parham said. “I’m not saying that’s our goal, but our goal is to keep winning and take it day by day… A lot of things have to go the right way. We had a lot of injuries last year. If we stay away from the injury bug, keep getting better and working hard and our team chemistry is good, we have a chance. But there’s a lot of things that have to go in the right direction.”
Adelphi finished 15-13 and lost by four points to St. Anselm in the quarterfinals of the Northeast-10 conference tournament. They return Leonie Edringer, a redshirt senior from Germany who played at Boise State before transferring to Adelphi before last season. She averaged 14.9 points per game and is the teams’ returning leading scorer. She had double figures in points in the last ten games of the season.
In Division III, the United States Merchant Marine Academy are coming off the best season in program history. They finished 22-4, won the Skyline Conference Tournament, and lost to Smith College in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Kaleigh D’Arcy, who is the sixth player in USMMA history to score 1,000 points, returns for her senior season. D’Arcy averaged 14 points a game. Sophomore Lauren Hunter, who was the team’s leading scorer with 16.7 points per game, also returns.
Farmingdale State finished last season 10-17, but beat SUNY – Old Westbury, 60-59, in the first round of the Skyline Conference tournament and fell to USMMA in the semifinals. They are led by senior Nia Miller, who averaged 14.9 points last season.
SUNY – Old Westbury went 20-6 and led the Skyline Conference in scoring – averaging 79.1 points per game and margin of victory (24.6). They have six players returning, including senior Davida Warren, who led the team with 15.7 points per game.
St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue finished 3-15 in the skyline conference last year.
Nassau Community College are coming off a 25-6 season, falling to eventual NJCAA Division III national champion Hostos Community College in the Region XV Championship game. Sophomore Lindsay McBean, who led the team with 15 points per game, returns.
Suffolk County Community College went 17-7 and fell to Nassau in the Region XV semifinals, 50-49.