SAILFISH Team Preview: Women's Basketball

Written By: Michael Brown, Palm Beach Atlantic University SID

Brooke Burgess (Pictured) Returns As PBA's Top Scoring and Rebounding Threat. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards. Brooke Burgess (Pictured) Returns As PBA's Top Scoring and Rebounding Threat. Photo Courtesy of: Lori Richards.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.- Behind a new attitude and a fresh roster of new faces, the Palm Beach Atlantic University women’s basketball team is gearing up for what they believe will be a new day of Sailfish women’s hoops. Take a look below as we breakdown the Fish, position-by-position, as to what you can expect of the 2008-2009 PBA women’s basketball squad.

Guards

One area of concern facing the Fish as they entered this season was their lack of depth, especially at the guard spots.

In an effort to remedy this lack of dependable options, second-year head coach Robin Potera-Haskins has brought in a number of new faces that will not only challenge for court time right away but possibly step into roles of leadership as well.

Lynsey Poole, a quick and electric point guard out of San Antonio, Texas has stepped into a starting role and will undoubtedly give Sailfish fans reasons to fill the seats of the Rubin Arena. Blessed not only with great speed, Poole is a player that allows the Fish to run the floor or work out of the half-court as her vision is unparallel with most players of her experience.

Joining Poole in the backcourt is another Lone Star state product in freshman Hayley Fields out of Plano, Texas and Princeton High School. The ability to shoot the three as well as penetrate make Fields an offensive threat from anywhere on the court.

A veteran coach at many levels, Potera-Haskins track record has always been that of a good recruiter. She feels players with the abilities and character of Poole and Fields are just what this program needs to turn around.

“Lynsey and Hayley are great fits for this program and what we are trying to accomplish. Not only will they give us big play potential but also a great understanding and knowledge of the game when they are on the floor,” said Potera-Haskins.

With Poole and Fields both being newcomers, the Fish aren’t short in experience either as senior Melissa Perez and junior Ashley Adkins both return this season as players with a lot of court time over the past few years and the ability to step in and help lead the offense.

Perez will be counted on to help share the load at point guard while Adkins, who led the team in scoring her freshman year and finished second last season, can provide a shooting spark as she makes her way back from injury.

Other new guard options include freshmen Jordan Kong and Loren Wilkins. Both players with solid high school credentials, they will be counted on for depth as they adjust to the collegiate game. Kong possess a great long-distance shooting touch while Wilkins has impressed early on with her defensive tenacity and ability to match up against tough offensive opponents. Rounding out the guard rotation is freshman Melissa Sandison who hails from Muskegon, Michigan and will also give the Fish more depth than ever before.

“I like our depth and versatility out of our guards this year. Melissa and Ashley are veteran players who know the game and I’m excited to see the development of our freshman,” continued Potera-Haskins.

Forwards

Looking at the PBA statistics from last season, it is fairly obvious who garnered much of the offensive load for the Fish.

A first-year player for the Fish in 2007-2008 after transferring from Daytona Beach Community College, Brooke Burgess quickly established herself as one of the top forwards in the region as she finished out the season leading the team in points (15.9), rebounds (11.3), and minutes played (34.6) as she started all 27 games from a year ago.

A versatile 6’1” player who can excel both with her back to the basket or in penetration, Burgess will once again be looked upon to help carry the Fish in the post.

“Brooke gives us a tough, hard-nosed young lady that does a lot of things well, not only on the offensive end but also with her rebounding and the great effort she gives on a nightly basis,” said Potera-Haskins.

Chanell Byrd, now in her second-year with the program after sitting out all of last season due to injury, appears ready for a breakout season as a 5’10” swing player.

Possessed with one of the most balanced skill sets on the team, Bryd can create matchup problems for opponents with her versatility as her game allows her to play near the basket or step out and hit a perimeter shot.

“It’s amazing to see the progress of Chanell. She has worked so hard to come back from her injury and she is going to surprise some people on how athletic and good she can be,” said Potera-Haskins.

While not technically a forward, junior transfer Kristine Webb will round out the PBA starting lineup. A 6’4” center out of Tuckasegie, North Carolina by way of NCAA Division I Winthrop University, Webb gives the Fish a true presence inside that will potentially open up PBA’s perimeter players for more open shot opportunities.

“Kristine opens a lot of things up for our team when she is on the floor. Her length and experience will be welcome additions for us as she has taken on not only a leadership position on the court but off it as well. She has great integrity, intensity, and a commitment to excellence  continued Potera-Haskins.

Other strong candidates to make their presence known for the Fish from the forward position are junior Sitara Richard and freshman Selethia Jackson.

Richard, who shot over 40% from three-point range last season, gives the Fish a deadly shot from the outside who at times can carry the team if left open.

Jackson comes to PBA from nearby Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, Florida and will be looked upon to provide depth behind both Burgess and Webb. A 6’1” player who possesses great length and athleticism, Jackson continues to develop both her offensive and defensive abilities to the college game.

Schedule

With the regular season set to open up later this week, the players, coaches, and fans are eagerly awaiting the opening tip.

The Fish open up their season on Saturday, November 15th as they host St. Thomas University at 3 pm in the Rubin Arena. This opening game will be the first of 11 home games the Fish will play in the first semester that fans will have the opportunity to witness first-hand.

PBA plays eight of their first ten games in the friendly confines of the Rubin Arena while their second semester schedule provides many more away contests.

Come out and support the new look Fish as they look to turn around the culture of PBA women’s basketball!

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