Changes all around in DODDS-Europe girls basketball
December 1, 2006
There will be a lot of new faces on the court and in the coaches’ chairs when DODDS-Europe opens the girls basketball season Friday at 12 sites across Europe.
Turnover is nothing new to the 35 schools that will be playing this season, but this season it is particularly heavy.
Sixteen teams feature new coaches, and only four of last season’s 20 first- and second-team All-Europe players return for the new campaign.
Some of the “new” coaches, such as Kent Grosshuesch of Ramstein, are returning to the sidelines after an absence of several seasons. Greg Jacobs of Rota, on the other hand, is back coaching just 21 months after leading the Lady Admirals to a European Division III crown.
All the new faces means there are a lot of questions. Following are some likely answers.
Despite the differing lengths of absence, Jacobs and Grosshuesch returned to find their cupboards well-stocked.
“We’re going to be taller than any team I’ve had — four girls who are 5-9 or taller as potential starters,” Jacobs wrote in an e-mail Monday.
None of his present team played for his 2005 champions, but Jacobs has a nucleus he hopes to mold into a unit capable of dethroning defending D-III champion Sigonella, which lost All-Europe center Dezira Manning to transfer.
Rota’s roster includes Beth Wallcott, All-Europe outside hitter from last month’s D-III champion volleyball team; center Nicole Edwards; guards Stephanie Shapiro and Tamara Williams; and power forward Sara Sheffield.
“I’m really excited,” Grosshuesch, who had confined his coaching to golf and softball since relinquishing the reins to the Royals’ boys team in 1999, said of the upcoming season. “[Basketball’s] my favorite sport.”
With his Lady Royals buoyed by the return of All-Europe first-team swingman Kendra Lenoir, “We should be tough. I have four starters back,” Grosshuesch said by telephone Sunday.
They are, in addition to Lenoir, who averaged 9.3 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals a game last season, center Kaylen Bannister, point guard Sierra Stayberg, and forward Crystal Richardson. All are seniors.
Corey Sullivan, returning to the bench for the defending D-I champion Kaiserslautern, lost four All-Europeans to graduation and transfer — Lynndsey Hyter, Anisha Ingram, Bianca Gerena-Perez and freshman sensation Kamiko Williams.
“She’s in the States,” Sullivan said of Williams, who averaged just under 15 points and 11 rebounds per game in her first varsity season. “It’s probably the best thing for her. She’ll be recruited [by colleges.]”
Melissa James of Bitburg is the only other All-Europe first-teamer returning this season. James, a point guard of superior defensive prowess, according to her coach, David Turner, joins two other starters from last season’s surprise European Division II champs.
New coaches will benefit from both returning second-team All-Europeans.
At Vicenza — which plays in the American Schools in Italy League and Division III at playoff time — Chakiera Gilbert checks in with new coach Garrett Barton, and at Division II-North SHAPE, Ashley Jordan takes the court for coach Sam Ochinang.
Jordan and her classmate, Ebonee De Vos, made waves as freshmen last season. Both hope to do the same this year.
Ross Brand takes over a championship squad for Sigonella, where Erika Anderson is expected to lead the way in the defense of the Jaguars’ D-III crown.
Returning coach Dexter Bohn will guide defending D-IV champion Brussels, which welcomes back three starters — Reliesha Burns, Caitlin Quinn and Elizabeth McVicker. Even with that nucleus, Bohn isn’t clearing room for another D-IV trophy just yet.
“At the Division IV level, it takes just one really good player to make the difference,” he said by telephone last week.
The European tournament, with championships in four divisions, will be Feb. 21-24 at Mannheim.
Division I — Heidelberg, International School of Brussels, Kaiserslautern, Lakenheath, Patch, Ramstein, Wiesbaden
Division II-North —AFNORTH, Baumholder, Bitburg, SHAPE
Division II-South —Black Forest Academy, Mannheim, Vilseck, Würzburg
Division III-North —Alconbury, Brussels, London Central, Menwith Hill
Division III-South—Ansbach, Bamberg, Giessen, Hanau, Hohenfels
American Schools in Italy League — American Overseas School of Rome, Aviano, Marymount International of Rome, Milan, Naples, Sigonella, Vicenza