USD women open basketball season at home

USD women open basketball season at home Fans may have to look more than once when previewing the 1999-2000 edition of the women's basketball program at the University of South Dakota. USD opens the season at home on Saturday against Concordia (NE) with a 7 p.m. tip-off.

This year's group of Coyotes bears very little resemblance to a team that went 7-20 overall last year, including a 3-15 slate in the North Central Conference.

South Dakota shows 12 players on the roster, and of those, only two experienced active duty a year ago and one other player sat out the season as a redshirt freshman.

"I feel we really covered our needs with our recruiting class," stated USD head coach Chad Lavin. "We are very excited about our returnees and the new players coming into the program.

"Offensively we have improved ourselves at all the positions. We are in a very competitive conference and we feel that we have a much more competitive team than last year."

Headlining the short list of veterans is senior Kelly Gese. However, the Coyotes will be without their standout guard. She will redshirt this year after sustaining a knee injury during the summer. Gese earned first-team all-NCC and second-team all-Region honors after leading USD with an 18.5 scoring average. Her 500 points was the fourth-best total in school history and her 18.1 NCC scoring mark was the fifth-best figure in the league. Gese was the Coyotes' leading scorer in 23 of 27 games.

Sophomore Alissa Koronkiewicz was the team's leading rebounder as a true freshman last season with 7.4 boards per game while adding 5.4 points per outing in 26 starting assignments. "Alissa had a very good freshman year," noted Lavin. "She is a tremendous rebounder and she has worked very hard to improve her offensive skills."

Leanna Chapman sat out her freshman season last year with a knee injury.

Lavin's recruiting class paid huge dividends with eight new faces enrolling in school. Two players will not exactly be new to the college basketball scene with Melinda Oster (6-2 senior) and Kelly Koepp (5-9 junior) coming in with much needed experience for a young team.

Oster comes to USD after starting the last three years at Black Hills State. She was named first-team all-SDIC last season after averaging 17.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Koepp played at Bethany Lutheran Community College the last two years. A two-time first-team Kodak all-American, Koepp poured in 25.7 points per game last season in leading Bethany to the junior college state championship with a 25-2 record. Koepp set Bethany's career scoring mark with 1,196 points in 52 games for a 23.0 average.

"We're very fortunate to have Melinda and Kelly in our program," remarked Lavin. "Melinda was one of the top-three players in the SDIC and she will provide immediate help at the four and five spot. Kelly is a big-time scorer both inside and outside."

The incoming freshmen class is a high-caliber one and it consists of: 6-0 Julia Frie, 6-0 Amanda Iverson, 5-8 Nicole Jaycox, 5-11 Gwen Meyer, 5-11 Heather Nelson and 5-4 Dawn Sudbeck.

"Julia has experience at all five positions and is an all-around good player," said Lavin. "Amanda is a solid rebounder and scorer and she runs the floor well. Nicole is a player with outstanding skills and she will be a good one in this league. Gwen's biggest asset is her outstanding scoring ability. Heather is probably the most athletic player that I have recruited and she can score inside and outside. Dawn is your consummate point guard with great vision and court sense."

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