The Maryville College Lady Scots have a bright outlook for their 2011-2012 campaign.
However, they have a lot to replace from last season in order to keep their success rolling.
Losing 25 percent of their scoring from last year due to graduation, the Lady Scots are looking for players who are willing to step up to fill those voids. That’s something that head coach Darrin Travillian says is very difficult.
“We’re starting to replace some of the points, but what we’re trying to replace the willingness to take that shot,” Travillian said. “I think our first couple games, we probably spent a lot of time looking for, ‘Hey, who’s going to take that shot?’ That’s a big chunk.”
That shot came from the team’s leading scorer from a year ago, Paige Sevier, who hit 72 three-pointers on her way to 278 points. Combined with another 219 points from Alex Rouvelas, last year’s senior point guard, these numbers add up to a void that senior captain C.J. Dake says will take a team effort to fill.
“A lot of people have worked on their games in the offseason and stepped up,” Dake said. “So, we’re just working to fill those shoes in a lot of different places. No one individual is going to come in and shoot all the threes that Paige Sevier shot for us last year. We’re going to spread the points out and make it work.”
That means that the Lady Scots are having to focus on more of an inside-out attack, using drives in the lane, kicks and players posting in the paint. This attack will open up open looks for Maryville’s shooters, but it’s an offense with which Maryville will have to show patience in order to find shots.
“The key points that we’ve been making this year is to not dribble-down and shoot threes, because last year we were able to do that. Just chuck it up to Paige,” Dake said. “This year, we’re able to get better looks for players like Janell [Menard] because we can score from any position on the court, and we’re working inside-out so well that we’re getting good looks.”
However, making it work may be tougher than the Lady Scots think.
Playing a tougher schedule, the Lady Scots will face off with schools such as Centre, Emory, Oglethorpe, Berry and Division II Carson-Newman.
Travillian hopes that playing the tougher competition will help his team reach the NCAA tournament.
“Last year, we were clearly disappointed that we didn’t win our conference tournament, which is our automatic bid,” said the second-year head coach. “I still felt that our overall body of work should have been good enough for an at-large bid.”
Being left out of “The Dance” is something that this year’s team is hoping will not be a problem. With an upgraded schedule, Travillian hopes that it will help their chances. If the Lady Scots win the Great South Athletic Tournament, they could have the chance to host a first-round game; if they don’t, they still have the chance of grabbing an at-large bid to the tournament.
Focusing on defense, the Lady Scots hope to step up their game, while using that in turn to help lift the offense. As the women proved last season, they are a defensive team, but they say that this season, they have picked up the intensity.
“Since we’ve been in the weight room this season, I think our defense has gotten a lot stronger,” said Menard, a junior guard. “We’re stronger as individuals and we can guard bigger people. I think that our defense is a lot stronger this year.”
With that in mind, Maryville has one goal in mind: win the last GSAC tournament. Over the past 12 years, the Lady Scots have won seven conference titles. Coming into this season with a No. 1 ranking in the conference, Maryville hopes to capture yet another conference title.
“It’s a swann song for the GSAC, so we want to try to win it again for one last time,” Travillian said. “I like the compliment of the coaches selecting us as a favorite; I think it brings with it a certain amount of pressure, too.”
That pressure is something Dake said the Lady Scot want to use to continue their success in the GSAC.
“I think winning this championship just makes a statement for everything we’ve worked on for so many years. Maryville College, I think, no question, Maryville has owned the GSAC,” Dake said. “Everyone is out to get us. They should be. I think all of us see that, and we love it. To us, the fact that we’re seen as such a challenge comes with a sense of pride. It also comes with a lot of pressure, and we will respond to that accordingly.”