The women's basketball team at Hofstra expects to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and gain an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. If that does not work out, a significant consolation prize is within reach: the Women's National Invitation Tournament.
"We have a really good chance of going to the CAA championship and the WNIT,'' freshman forward Shante Evans said. "We're in a good spot right now. We're not complaining.''
Coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey wants the CAA title - something no Hofstra women's or men's basketball team has achieved - but when asked what is needed for the WNIT, she said: "You would quickly say win two. I think you definitely secure the WNIT if you win two.''
Hofstra (18-12) is seeded sixth and will play 11th seed William & Mary (12-17) on Thursday at James Madison University. A victory would send the Pride against No. 3 seed Virginia Commonwealth, which Hofstra beat earlier this season. Old Dominion is the top seed.
Evans has averaged 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds and has teamed well with senior Jess Fuller (9.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.1 blocks.). Evans averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding 13 times this season, with Hofstra going 10-3 in those double-doubles.
If Delaware did not have freshman sensation Elena Delle Donne, one of the best players in the nation, Evans would be the CAA rookie of the year. She will settle for being the most talked about freshman after Delle Donne. "She's 6-5, and can shoot anywhere from the court," Evans said of the Delaware star. "It's not bad being No. 2 next to her.''
Evans made an immediate impact at Hofstra. "She knew why I recruited her and why she was here,'' Kilburn-Steveskey said. "Shante was earning it every day in practice. She was earning it in preseason, earning it in pickup games. She doesn't sit back and say, 'Give me what I deserve.' She goes out and earns it. We brought her in here and let her go.''
Evans said: "Before my freshman year, I wanted to average a double double for every game. The first few practices, I was in the background; I didn't really know what I was doing. But eventually, you get used to it and they don't see you as a freshman any more."
Added Kilburn-Steveskey: "There's been so many games where Shante has picked us up and put us on her back.''
A couple of more and Hofstra's season will be extended.