Basketball teams prepare for season

New possibilities open to men and women

By Stephen Cogan
On November 9, 2012

  • Gas prices continue to hit already struggling students where it hurts most. Ashley Romo

     Basketball is around the corner with both teams just days away from starting their official seasons.

     The Rams open their season at home on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. against Lubbock Christian University, and the Rambelles begin their season at home on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. against St. Edward's University.

     The two teams contrast each other because the Rambelles have many players returning while the Rams have several new faces.

     "We're mostly sophomores and freshmen, but we are returning 10 players," Women's Head Coach Sally Brooks said.

     With so many returning players, Brooks said the experience and maturity from last year will be a plus.

     "Just the experience of those 10 players is huge," Brooks said. "There is really nothing that replaces experience and maturity."

     Brooks said one example is sophomore point guard Cassi Stegall, who Brooks said has come a long way into becoming a leader.

     "I believe playing the point guard position, even as a sophomore, she has to be a leader."

     Brooks said. "I think she's proven that she's ready to do that."
Along with the returning players, ASU recruited four freshmen and two transfers to give Brooks a total of 16 players to work with.

     While Brooks has her veterans, Men's Head Coach Fred Rike has a brand new squad.

     "We've got 12 new players," Rike said. "Six of them are freshmen. We've got three Division I transfers, a Division II transfer, two junior college transfers, so we've got a really neat mix."
Junior Zach Jones and sophomores Dakota Rawls and Justin Walling are returning from last year which brings the Rams final roster count to 15.

     "Those three guys have had great springs," Rike said. "We expect big things from them because they've been in the program."

     One of the Rambelles' main returning players is sophomore Haylee Oliver, who was second on the team in scoring with 311 points despite not being a starter.

     "I think Haylee can do whatever Haylee sets her mind to," Brooks said. "She has come back ready and focused. I think she had a very good freshman year, but I can just tell the difference in her confidence, and she knows what I expect of her. She's going to have a great year."

     Oliver was the Lone Star Conference Co-Freshman of the Year and Brooks believes another ASU freshman could have the impact that Oliver had.

     "Amanda Weaver is very talented," Brooks said. "Faith Hunt is going to have a good year. They are capable of being Freshman of the Year in the conference."

     Rike said that with six freshmen, he thinks there is a chance that a Ram could be Freshman of the Year as well.

     "We'll have a couple of freshmen that will probably play a lot," Rike said. "Javon Austin was one of the top 50 high school players in the state last year and of course Reggie Sutton from San Angelo Central is probably one of the better players in the history of this city."

     Rike said that this is his seventh year at ASU and Austin is the best freshman he's ever had.

     Brooks has an idea of how the Rambelles will perform, but Rike said that with so many new players, he won't know for sure until the Rams have played a few games.

     "We try to find roles as early as we can," Rike said. "But there is still a little gray area with a few guys and we'll just iron that out as we go."

     However, Rike said that it is possible the Rams have a successful season and spoke from personal experience.

     "One of the better teams we had was in '08," Rike said. "We went to the NCAA tournament and they were all newcomers."

     The 2008-2009 team was ranked as high as 23 in the NCAA's Top 25 and is the highest ranking team in ASU's history.

     Rike said the positives about his team he's seen so far is they score and share the ball as well as how they function as a unit.

     "We've got good team chemistry," Rike said. "It's a matter of everybody buying in and learning a new system and going from there."

     Rike said this team was the most coachable team he's ever had and that include the 2008-2009 team.

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