The Shore opens event against host Seawolves
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore will play its fourth game of the season 4,394 miles away from its Princess Anne campus when the Hawks take on host University of Alaska-Anchorage in the first round of the Great Alaskan Shootout.
The Shore (1-2) is coming off pair of losses in New York at Buffalo and Syracuse, while the undefeated Seawolves (5-0) are ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division II coaches poll.
“I’m really most concerned with their defense,” Hawks head coach Fred Batchelor said. “They hang their hat on their defense. They do some unique thing. They’ll pressure you and then fall back into a zone. It’s hard to prepare for that because we don’t normally do it.”
The Hawks have spent the last few days of practice simulating just that and Batchelor feels like that has helped his team get a feel for what they may face in the Alaska Airlines Center. The Seawolves are not a running team like the Hawks faced in Buffalo, but more an efficient transition team that takes advantage of the opportunities they are given.
“Their defense becomes their best offense because it puts us on our heels on the other end and we’re on our toes on offense,” Batchelor said. “Us being able to capitalize on our offense, will be our best defense against their execution — running and chasing them in transition opposed to getting back on made shots.”
Eastern Shore is shooting just 35 percent from the field and 54 percent from the free throw line so far, this season. Batchelor knows that won’t be good enough against Alaska Anchorage.
“Our percentage has to be on par with theirs,” Batchelor said. “They are shooting 46 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3 and 78 percent from the line. We’re not there. To me, that’s where it is going to be decided.”
The Seawolves finished last season 30-2 overall and went undefeated in winning the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament. In 1990 Alaska Anchorage became the first women’s Division II team to win a tournament against all NCAA Division I opponents. They repeated that feat in 2003, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
“That’s the one thing that coach (Sidney) Raikes has tried to do in our preparation is give us an air that we are a Division I program and they are a Division II program. We need to play like we are Division I players,” Batchelor said. “I think that is what we can compete with in regard to their winning tradition and culture. They believe in what they do and we are developing. With seven new players and two starting guards out, we are developing a confidence in ourselves in each other and what we do.”
The Seawolves are led by 6-foot-1 junior forward Hannah Wandersee, who is averaging 17.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2,8 assists and 2.4 blocks. She is shooting 64 percent from the field and is perfect from the free throw line this season.
“She can score,” Batchelor said. “She can put the ball in the basket. They have three players in double figures, so it’s not just her. All three of them are going to be a challenge for us.”
Senior guard Rodericka Ware is averaging 15.4 points, while senior forward Shelby Cloninger is putting up 10.6 points and 6.2 rebounds a contest.
But Wandersee is mission No. 1 for the Hawks defense.
“I think we need to make things difficult for her,” Batchelor said. “She likes to score in the post going one way most of the time. We need to force her the other way if possible and she is able to knock down free throws. She capitalizes, so we need somebody to step up.”
That could be senior Tori Morris (Herndon, Virginia), who picked up her first career double-double at Syracuse and is averaging 8.0 points and 8.7 rebounds.
“Tori is playing really well the last couple of games,” Batchelor said. “We need that type of play from her so we can have something comparative at that position. I don’t expect Tori to score 17, but if she scores 12 that is a -5 differential we can make up with some other place.”
While the battle in the paint will be huge the game like many this season could come down to guard play. Senior Alexus Hicks (Raleigh, North Carolina) will need to step up and show the leadership she did last season after Ciani Byrom (Winston-Salem, North Carolina) went down with an injury.
“She has to lead us and get us off to a good start,” Batchelor said. “I like what we are getting from Porsha Sydnor (Chicago, Illinois) — a freshman — but I am a little hesitant to depend on that play because it is going to be up and down and that is a little unfair to her. We need Hicks to really manage the game well. We need her to make good decisions, take care of the basketball, be able to attack when it’s there and get us into our offense. I think if Hicks can do that for us it will make things easier for the other guards.”
Batchelor knows his talented freshmen overall will have good days and bad days., so it will be important for his two graduate transfers in Jordyn Smith (Durham, North Carolina) and Martha Thompson (Bedford Heights, Ohio). Smith is leading the team in scoring with 10.5 points and adding 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 steals a game.
“I think Jordyn is going to get opportunities to score,” Batchelor said. “The way teams are playing us right now they are saying Jordyn you can get 10, but you are going to have to get 20 to beat us. She is the kid we need 16-17 points a game from. If we get more production from her it’s going to open things up.”
Thompson had a strong opener (6 points, 8 rebounds), but has faded a bit over the past few games.
“In order for us to be successful we need some play from kids we haven’t gotten big games from,” Batcher said. “Our kids with experience, who have been around. Then it’s like Christmas whatever we can get from the freshmen.
Alaska Anchorage features a veteran lineup with 10 upperclassmen and just three freshmen. And — in the final year of an iconic tournament — the Hawks are hoping they don’t become the victim of a program with 37 regular season victories against 33 different Division I schools and a 36-56 all-time record in the shootout.
“This is going to be a learning experience for us,” Batchelor said. “Our preparation is different than anyone else’s because our whole preparation is getting ready for league play. As much as this would be nice to have a successful experience, at the end of the day if you don’t take care of league play, get better and improve in December, January and February nobody is really taking about the great Alaskan Shootout.
“We want to keep this in perspective, but we want to take advantage of the opportunity of being here in a historical tournament. It’s the last one.
“And we do have a chance to do something special.”
For more information on Eastern Shore Athletics visit http://www.easternshorehawks.com/.
- Men's Sports
- Women's Sports
- FAN ZONE
- DONATE NOW
- Business Accessories
- Decals/Magnets & Auto
- Duffles & Totes
- Everyday Essentials
- Flags & Wall Decals
- Gifts, Food & Accessories
- Hunting & Fishing