Freshmen add depth to Lady Bears' teamNov. 5, 1998
BY BJ ANTEOLA
Images of Nittany Lions celebrating on the court of the Ferrell Center tend to reappear in some of the Lady Bears' heads when they reminisce on last season's journey to the Women's National Invitational Tournament finals.
Coming so close, only to lose in the final minute to Penn State, tears these Lady Bears apart. But they also say it motivates them, knowing that they are not yet the best.
'We really wanted to be ranked in the Top 25, and Penn State ended the season No. 25,' shooting guard Lara Webb said. 'If we had won that game, we probably would have been ranked. We finished the season off on a high note by playing in the tournament, but that loss is definitely a big motivator.'
Webb, who has been named to the preseason All-Big 12 first team, leads the Lady Bears with center Kacy Moffitt and point guard Toya Ellis. Last season the Big Three were responsible for 60 percent of the Lady Bears' total offense.
In a poll of Big 12 coaches, the Lady Bears were predicted to finish third in the conference behind Sweet-16 team Kansas Jayhawks and the defending conference champions, the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Baylor lost only two players from graduation, both starters. This season, senior Amy Alcala, the Lady Bears' 'sixth woman' last season, will play small forward, and 6-foot-2-inch Monica Arnold will start at power forward. Arnold was the only freshman on last season's roster. Both are expected to add more defensive intensity.
Head Coach Sonja Hogg's main concern this season is the team's health. Hogg does not want to go through last year's experiences of coaching an eight-player roster, which was due to several injuries and a player dismissal.
Unfortunately, the Lady Bears are already starting the season with two injuries. Freshman forward Hilary Akromis has yet to practice because of injuries, and senior post Shannon Applebury is still trying to recover from a torn anterior cruciate ligament she experienced last season.
Hogg does have more depth with the addition of six freshmen, including Danielle Crockrom, a first-team all-state forward who averaged 26 points and 10.5 rebounds a game at North Shore High School in Houston. Crockrom is expected to have an immediate impact with her 'athleticism.'
Tara Eackles, a 6-foot-6-inch redshirt freshman returns after sitting out last season due to a knee injury, and junior guard Mandy Hayworth will receive more playing time coming off the bench.
'It's been real nice having more players,' Hogg said. 'With the four seniors helping the freshmen a lot, it's helped them learn faster and work harder.'
The Lady Bears may have to work harder if they expect to survive this season's schedule and receive an NCAA bid. Baylor will host the first round of the preseason WNIT on Nov. 13 and then open up conference play against Texas Tech in January.
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