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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Women?s team is showing early talent

By Corbin Godfrey

Two words: Kalee Whipple
Sure, the women’s basketball team is only returning two starters. Yes, it lost its two biggest stars, last year’s Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Morgan Warburton and second-team All-MWC Katie King, who together averaged 29.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. But I am sure Warburton and King weren’t household names their first year on campus. They had to perform well for people to take notice of their skills. Six freshmen, three sophomores, and two juniors all have their chance to vault their names into the starting roles left behind by last year’s leaders and to keep the team on track.

By no means does this have to be a rebuilding year for the women’s basketball team. Jordan Wynn, the freshman quarterback for the football team, has showed us that age and year in school have nothing to do with whether someone is ready to play. Is it just me, or is opting for younger starting lineups in college sports becoming the latest fad? Paving the way for underclassmen8212;or underclasswomen in this case8212;makes them able to show their skills early in their college careers.

The Utes’ two returning starters, Kalee Whipple and Halie Sawyer, aren’t too bad themselves. Together, they averaged 24.1 points and 13.8 rebounds per game, not very far off from the combined average of Warburton and King last season. With Warburton and King gone, Whipple and Sawyer have a chance to put up huge numbers and help carry the young team. Whipple is a three-time All-MWC player who has potential to be an All-American this year. She is the Utes’ 10th all-time leading scorer and was second in scoring last year in the MWC, with 17 points per game. She averaged 19.5 points in the Utes’ NCAA Tournament games. Whipple will get her chance to shine this year, and shine she shall.

MWC player of the year? Yes. Congratulations, Whipple, you will deserve it with your double-double average, giving Utah its second straight MWC player of the year.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Maybe. But I feel that confident about it.

The good news is that the Utes will not have to rely completely on Whipple and Sawyer. Players such as sophomore point guard Janita Badon and freshman Taryn Wicijowski will help keep the team on an even level. Badon shared time last season with Hanna Stephens, who has since transferred, leaving Badon with full reign of the point guard position. I think she likes having control8212;she put up 17 points on Chadron State last Friday.

Wicijowski will also have a big role on the team. Although she is a freshman, she is poised to contribute right away. She averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as team captain for the Canada Junior National Team at the FIBA world U19 Championships in 2009. That’s right, she has already led a national team in an international tournament. Something tells me that playing right away as a freshman won’t be a big deal to her.

This team is young, but head coach Elaine Elliott has done it again. She brought in a youthful team but has found players with enough experience to contribute right away. The Utes face a tough schedule this year, but I think they are going to surprise everyone with their talent and have a great season.

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