With one exhibition win under its belt and a full season ahead,
the Colorado State women’s basketball team is out to accomplish a
goal. The Rams are aiming for their ninth consecutive season with
20 victories and are going to attempt it with 10 of their 12
players being underclassmen.
After the departure of seven players last season, including
guard Ashley Augspurger, who led the team with 12.9 points and 4.5
rebounds a game, the Rams have added six freshmen.
Atop the list of rookies is 6-foot-1 guard Annika Walseth from
Bloomington, Minn. In her first performance as a Ram, (an
exhibition game against Sparta Praha Wednesday night) Walseth
scored seven points, pulled down four rebounds and had three steals
and three assists in 22 minutes.
“Annika has really shown she can do some things,” CSU head coach
Chris Denker said. “She is our third point guard. She gives us the
ability to go big and that is nice.”
Denker, who begins his second season as head coach, led the Rams
to a 21-13 season last year as the team advanced to the WNIT
semifinals. Of the seven players returning to the team, forward Joy
Jenkins and guard Jasai Ferrucho are the only seniors.
Jenkins averaged 8.5 points and 3.4 rebounds a game last year
but has sat out eight practices so far this season with a
concussion. She came off the bench to score 13 points Wednesday in
her first full-contact action since the injury.
“More people got a chance to play because of Joy’s injury,”
Denker said. “She would normally be a starter and she is probably
our best player. She gives us on-court leadership and she has a
great knowledge of the game.”
Jenkins realizes the team’s need for her to be a leader and is
very optimistic about the upcoming season.
“I have lots of goals, but the biggest ones are to have a
winning season and to get at least 20 wins,” Jenkins said. “I also
want to be a good leader and have fun.”
The other Ram elder is 5-7, Colombia native Jasai Ferrucho, who
averaged five points a game last year and currently ranks 20th on
CSU’s career assists list. Ferrucho teams up with sophomore guard
Vanessa Espinoza to lead the Rams offensively and defensively.
“In the long run and in big games, you are going to see Vanessa
and Jasai on the court quite a bit,” Denker said. “They are usually
the catalyst to our defense.”
Espinoza, one of four sophomores on the squad, averaged 17.8
minutes per game last year and will play more this year as she and
Ferrucho try to fill the void left by Augspurger.
“Our goal is to really try and push it in transition and
pressure the ball as much as we can,” Espinoza said.
Sophomores Melissa Dennett, Lindsay Thomas and Msur Tor-Agbidye,
along with Jenkins, will be the forces in the paint for the Rams.
The four combined for 24 of the team’s 43 rebounds against Sparta
CSU’s schedule features two teams from the ESPN/USA Today
Coaches Preseason Top 25 Poll: No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 20
Colorado. Last season, the Rams lost to the Fighting Irish by one
point, 46-45, but will get a chance to battle them at home this
season on Dec. 29. The Rams lost to CU 65-51 last season, but will
also face them at home this season on Dec. 3.
In the preseason Mountain West Conference poll, the Rams were
chosen to finish fourth behind Utah, the 2002-03 regular season
champion, BYU and New Mexico. Conference action begins Jan. 15 with
CSU hosting BYU.
The Rams play their final exhibition game on Thursday when they
host UC-Colorado Springs. The season-opener takes place on Nov. 21
at Moby Arena against Texas Southern.