By Mike Rudin - SPORTS EDITOR
The Hofstra Pride women’s basketball team soared to new heights after an opening 7-1 record to start the 2015-16 season.
Considering the only loss came against seventh-ranked Oregon State down in San Juan, Hofstra has made great strides to begin head coach Krista Kilburn Steveskey’s 10th year at the helm of the team.
“They are just a group that cares about winning more and I’ve been saying this for 10 years that I’ve been here as a coach,” Hofstra head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said after Saturday’s win against St. Joseph’s.
“I wanted to coach a team that represents the years of my past … like [when] I came into NC State but that was a culture that was already established … they do care about each other really well.”
The dynamic duo of Krystal Luciano and Darius Faulk have been a strong boost to the team’s success so far. The two players work well feeding the ball to each other as well as directing the rest of the team.
The two players rank in the top three in assists and steal; Luciano averages 4.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game while Faulk puts up six points and 4.3 rebounds each game.
Luciano’s shot has been on fire lately, scoring in double digits five of the last six games. She’s scored on average 12 points per game which nearly doubles her average of 6.5 in 2014-15.
Faulk came up clutch in some key situations, such as the grab-and-go turnover in the final seconds against Navy, providing the game-winning basket.
Ashunae Durant currently has been one of the most vital and consistent players on the team. From her work inside the paint to grabbing boards, she’s been a team player and the catalyst of the team when needed.
Overall, things look great on paper and some players have stepped up for the Pride, but there are some underlying issues that pose concerns. Mainly, the distribution of rebounds and the problems at the five spot have posed some red flags.
Anjie White was Kilburn-Steveskey’s go-to player to start at the five and it began on a rocky road. She struggled to be the projected reckoning force on the court, averaging 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 points per game.
Then during the Oregon State game, White left the game within the first minute due to injury, forcing reserve players Sandra Dongmo and Sydni Epps into the fire to fill White’s spot.
While Ashunae Durant leads the team with 10.5 rebounds per game, the next best average stands at 6.3 a game. Durant alone makes up 26 percent of the team’s rebounds with 50 more than the next player.
On the plus side, Hofstra’s bench proved to be a major plus in the starting portion of the season with players like Asia Jackson and Jakelle King-Gilchrist.
King-Gilchrist notched her best performance with 15 points in the season opener. Jackson tallied 10 or 11 points three times.
Hofstra has three remaining non-conference games left in the regular season against University of Massachusetts (2-4), then they’ll face off with Marist College (2-7) and the Pride will end their non-conference portion against Delaware State University (1-7).
Hofstra has a great chance to begin 10-1 before conference action, since all three non-conference teams are ranked higher than 200 in NCAA RPI.