posted 2012-12-18 18:38:16

Women’s Basketball Team Kicks Off Their Season

Hawks face numerous challenges in first few weeks 

Christian Davies

Sports Editor

Kicking off a college basketball season is tough for any team. But for the Hunter women’s basketball team, the 2012–2013 season has provided a unique set of challenges.

“This season started off pretty difficult for us,” said Head Coach Vana Loukissas. “We were constantly faced with adversity.”

Coach Loukissas was referring to a cluster of injuries that plagued the Hawks leading up to the season, including the season-ending ACL tear of their 1st Team All-CUNY forward, Kristen Markoe. On top of the injuries, the team missed an entire week of practice due to Hurricane Sandy, and when they came back, they couldn’t work in their own gym because it was being used as a makeshift shelter for displaced victims of Sandy.

All of this turmoil and upending is hard for a team that is trying to develop its chemistry. “Last year we had a lot of talent, but a lot of new faces and it takes time to gel,” said Associate Head Coach Michael Kotrozos. “The girls have a year under their belt together, which will help for this year.”

Coming off a 13-14 campaign a season ago, which saw the Hawks go 9-3 within their conference, the goals coming into this season are very clear. “Our main goal every year is to compete for and win a CUNY championship,” said Coach Kotrozos.

Coach Loukissas added, “Our main goal is to win the CUNY championship and go to nationals.”

The Hawks, juggling obstacles every step of the way, have opened their season with a win over Lehman College and losses to Baruch, Bay Path College, the College at Old Westbury and Vassar College, putting them at 1-1 within the CUNYAC and 1-4 overall.

In their win over Lehman, the Hawks got big games from junior Kristen Sells and sophomore Dimitra Thomopoulos. Sells ended up with 16 points, shooting 6-11 from the field and 4-8 from three-point range. Thomopoulos had 11 points of her own, adding 14 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.

After taking down Lehman to earn their first win of the season, the Hawks next hosted Baruch, who beat the Hawks 66-44, knocking the Hawks’ record to 1-3 overall, 1-1 inside the CUNYAC.

Despite the loss, the Hawks did continue to come together as a team, with Thomopoulos again leading the way. Thomopoulos, who has looked fantastic in the first five games of the season, walked away with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 4-6 from the field and 5-8 at the free throw line. As a team, the Hawks managed to get 11 steals off the Bearcats; however, Baruch forced 32 Hunter turnovers, making it hard for the Hawks to get any kind of momentum going.

In their most recent game, against the Brewers of Vassar College, the Hawks ran into a tough and especially motivated Vassar team. The Brewers were not only coming into the game undefeated, they were also trying to get their star player, Cydni Matsuoka, to reach the 1,000-point milestone for her career.

After hanging with the Brewers for the first 14 minutes, the Hawks slowly began to fade, eventually losing 76-47. Hunter was led by junior Nicole Lenard’s 19 points, but the team was again plagued by turnovers. In the end, the Hawks turned the ball over 26 times, and Vassar’s Matsuoka reached her 1,000-point milestone.

Although the Hawks have had a bumpy start to their season, spirits remain justifiably high. Despite the injury to Markoe, the team has plenty of talent to succeed inside and outside the conference. And one of the great things about basketball is that the season is a marathon, not a wind sprint, and the Hawks have more than enough time to continue improving.

“Our ultimate goal is to get better every day, every week, every month, so we are playing our best basketball at the end of the season and we can win a championship,” said Coach Kotrozos. “We would like to improve our overall win-loss record and finish over .500. In our conference, we would like to finish first in our division and get a high seed for the conference tournament.”

Coach Loukissas also said, “What the team needs to do to thrive is to take one game at a time and continue to work hard.”

As the semester comes to an end, the Hawks will play three more games: one against non-conference opponent Mt. St. Mary’s, and two against conference foes Medgar Evers and John Jay. After a uniquely challenging start to their season, they will have plenty of opportunity to work together and get to where they want to be throughout the season.