Aztecs to court adversity in 2014-15 campaign

by Anthony Reclusado, Staff Writer

It’s safe to say that last season was a tumultuous year in head coach Stacie Terry’s inaugural season at the helm of the San Diego State women’s basketball program. She faced the task of replacing four senior starters that accounted for 64 percent of the team’s scoring from a season prior and had to overcome losing two key players to season-ending injuries early in the year.

Coach Terry, unfortunately, faces a similar situation to start this season, as she has to replace two senior starters, center Cierra Warren and guard Danesha Long, who scored 40 percent of the points last season. However, the Aztecs are heading into this campaign with excitement and a positive outlook.

“I’m excited to start our second season here at San Diego State,” Terry said in her Oct. 21 press conference. “This team has worked extremely hard in the offseason, summer and in the preseason to really put us in a very good position. We will be a much better team this season and we’re excited about that.”

FRESHMEN

The Aztecs bring in an athletically gifted freshmen class, with the core group of point guard McKynzie Fort, guard Cheyenne Greenhouse and forward Lexy Thorderson all having the ability to make their impact felt early in the season.

Fort, who is a four-star recruit by ESPN and ranked 95th overall on the site, will have to compete with redshirt junior Ahjalee Harvey for the starting role at the point guard position. However, her explosive athleticism makes her far too talented to not put on the court and will see time at the off guard position. The rest of the conference has recognized Fort’s talent, as she was named preseason Mountain West Freshman of the Year.

Greenhouse, standing at 5-foot-11, comes to Montezuma Mesa with the ability to rebound and score. In her senior season she averaged 21.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Finally, Thorderson provides both length and above-average range, finishing with the most 3-pointers in the state of Colorado during the 2013-14 season.

Even before having an opportunity to step on the court during competition, these three freshmen have already left and impression on the coaching staff.

“All three of our freshmen are phenomenal athletes, people and players,” Terry said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing them on the court. They bring a different level of athleticism that we didn’t have last year.”

HEALTH

A key to this season for SDSU is to stay healthy, as last season saw two starters go down with injuries before conference play. One of those players is still rehabbing an injury.

Starting point guard Harvey went down last season with only eight games under her belt before she injured her knee and was sidelined for the remainder of the year. She left last season as the leader in assists and steals.

Redshirt junior Erimma Amarikwa, with her wealth of talent and athleticism, was sorely missed last season, for her nose for the ball and intensity.

“She’s just a tough kid and when she turns it on, she’s hard to stop,” Terry said.  “She’s going to make a huge impact on the team this year.”

Sophomore Ariell Bostick stepped up last season to fill Harvey’s shoes at the one, but injured her knee to miss the last seven games of the season.

EXPECTATIONS

With a full season under her belt as a head coach, Terry has built chemistry with this team and knows what it takes to get the most out of them.

Women’s basketball fans should not be worried if SDSU gets off to a slow start, as this is a young team that will take its time before it can find its identity. Not to mention that four of its first six games will be on the road, where it will also have to face No. 2 University of South Carolina.

However, with the extended amount of practice time, healthy roster and firepower across the roster, this Aztec team isn’t too far from returning to MW prominence.