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Week of 22 November 2002 · Vol. VI, No. 13

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Vanderbilt in town to give women's basketball Terriers first true test

By Brian Fitzgerald

Some coaches find it insulting when their squad is given the label Cinderella. It implies a rags-to-riches tale that focuses on luck and fate instead of talent and hard work. The term probably isn’t fair to the BU women’s basketball team.


Last year Katie Terhune (CAS’04) led the America East Conference in scoring, averaging 18.6 points a game. Photo by Rob Klein


But coach Margaret McKeon is thrilled that her Terriers were selected as a “Cinderella Team” for the upcoming season by Women’s College “When I first heard, I was honored,” she says. “It’s nice that people recognize us as a team that can compete nationally.”

One of 10 colleges on the list, BU could “seemingly emerge out of nowhere and reach the NCAA tournament,” predicts the Web site.

Out of nowhere? Last year’s New England Patriots can justifiably be called a Cinderella team because they went from 5-11 to 11-5 and were a 14-point underdog in the Super Bowl. The Terriers, on the other hand, were a more than respectable 17-11 last season. BU was picked to finish second in the conference, which is just where it ended up last year. The glass slipper analogy doesn’t appear to fit.

But look deeper into the Web site’s reasoning, and the point the authors are trying to make is apparent. The team’s 17-11 record in the 2001-02 season was a remarkable turnaround from 10-19 the previous year. BU enjoyed the 19th largest improvement among Division I teams during the two-year span. The 17 victories were also the most in seven years -- the Terrier’s first winning season since 1995.

“The Terriers upgraded their schedule considerably in ’02 and ’03, but they may have the horses (dogs) to make some of those games into major upsets,” writes Web site writer Ed Clark, having some fun with their nickname. “Most of last year’s contributors return, led by All-American candidate Katie Terhune. Coach McKeon is one of the bright young minds in the game and we expect her to get the most from this team. Goliaths beware.”

One of the Goliaths is Vanderbilt, the number-one Midwest seed in last year’s NCAA tournament. BU hosts the Commodores on Saturday, November 23, at 2 p.m. at the Case Gym. “Vanderbilt is a top ten team and has Chantelle Anderson, a great 6'6" post player and the best center in the SEC,” says McKeon. Anderson, who averaged 21.2 points and 6.3 rebounds last year, is one of the main reasons Vandy advanced to the Elite Eight. She was named’s preseason player of the year.

“Obviously, with a tough schedule, our kids get to see how they match up to the nation’s best teams,” McKeon says. BU also takes on Harvard at home on Tuesday, November 26, at 2 p.m., and travels to St. Joseph’s on Saturday, November 30. “The first three games will be a true test to us,” she says. “We’re playing postseason tournament teams. Harvard won the Ivy League tournament last year. St. Joseph’s went to the second round of the NIT tournament.” In addition, BU will host Stanford on Saturday, December 21, at 1 p.m. “Stanford is a top-five team and has an All-American,” she says. “Nicole Powell is a 6'1" point guard who is a finalist for the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award.”

McKeon says the scheduling of tough teams was designed not only to get BU used to playing at a high level for tournament play, but first and foremost to “get them physically and mentally prepared” for teams such as Vermont, where BU will play on January 11. “Vermont won the America East tournament last year, and was picked to finish first this year,” she says. The 1 p.m. game will be televised on NESN.

McKeon was happy at the beginning of the fall to have five starters returning, especially Terhune (CAS’04), who averaged 18.6 points a game last year. And the coach was pleased with how the Terriers looked in their 72-60 exhibition win against Istrobanka, a Slovakian professional team, on November 11 -- and not just because Terhune had 20 points. “I was really impressed with our rebounding,” she says. “It’s the first time in the three years that I’ve been here that we’ve had three players with double digits in rebounding. They’re finally grasping the concept of going after the ball, and they did a good job boxing out.” Another source of satisfaction was the number of shots: 80. “We average 62 shots,” she says. “We took a lot against Istrobanka, but a lot of the misses came from 12 feet and closer. That’s something we can clean up in practice. There are obviously some things we’re going to have to work on, but I was pretty impressed for an early November exhibition game. Later on, if we take 80 shots and hit half of them, we’re going to score a lot of points.”

McKeon points out that freshman guard Rachael Vanderwal (SED’06) looked like a veteran in the game. “She played 24 minutes and had five assists and no turnovers,” she says.

Expectations are high in the BU athletics department that three BU teams could go to their NCAA tournaments this spring. “Everyone’s pumped up about hockey, which is successful year in and year out,” says McKeon “and men’s basketball, which got back last year to where it used to be.”

Now it could be the BU women’s basketball Terriers going to the royal ball this March. But their carriage will turn into a pumpkin if they can’t get by their conference rivals. “Our goal is to win the America East tournament and play in the NCAA tournament,” McKeon says. “Those expectations are realistic if we work hard and are dedicated, and we stay healthy.”


22 November 2002
Boston University
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