ATLANTA (May 5) – Georgia Tech’s women’s basketball team, fresh off a 17-14 campaign which included a berth in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, is traveling to Australia for 11 days of sight-seeing and five basketball games against some of the nation’s top teams.
The Yellow Jackets, who depart Atlanta Monday and return on May 18, are taking their second off-season international trip in five years.
“We’re very excited about this trip, especially since our kids are coming off exams,” said head coach Agnus Berenato, who completed her 12th season at the helm of the Jackets in the 1999-2000 season. “We’re doing everything educationally we can do. We’ll be gone from the hotel from 8 in the morning until 1 or 2 a.m. It will be great educational opportunity for our kids. They all have things they’ve had to research. Two of them have Sydney, two of them have Melbourne, two of them have Canberra, two of them have the Great Barrier Reef.”
On the Tech itinerary are three days in Melbourne, one in Canberra, three in Sydney and three in Cairns. In Melbourne, the team will visit the largest casino in the Southern hemisphere and the historic Queen Victoria Market. In Sydney, the Jackets are scheduled to tour the Olympic Village, the Aquarium, the Opera House and Taronga Zoo. The Cairns portion of the trip includes a tour of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wild World Animal Park.
“We’re allowed to take a foreign tour every four years,” said Berenato. “We were fortunate enough to take our team to France and Switzerland in 1996. So we saved up our money from our booster club and had some support from the Athletic Association.”
The schedule of games includes the Kilsyth Cobras on May 10 and the Melbourne Tigers on May 11 in Melbourne. In Sydney, Tech will face the Australia Institute of Sport on May 13. The Jackets then meet the Illawara Kittyhawks on May 15 in Sutherland, and Cairns BBC on May 16 in Cairns.
“This is a great crew to take. It will really benefit us,” said Berenato, whose team advanced to the third round of the Women’s NIT before losing to Arkansas. “This year, we only have one senior, which is Danielle Donehew (Canton, Ga.). We can take her on the trip, but she will not play. We have five freshmen, and I’m really looking to play the younger kids. We play five games against some of the best competition in the world, and they beat everybody on an average of 30 or 40 points.”
Tech was led last year by 6-1 rising senior forward Jaime Kruppa (Lithonia, Ga.), who led the team in scoring (10.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.7 per game) while starting 30 of 31 games. The only player to start all 31 games was 5-9 rising sophomore point guard Nina Barlin (Tradgardsgaten, Sweden), who averaged 7.2 points and 3.8 assists.
Berenato will look to give plenty of court time to her rising sophomore class, which also includes 5-9 guard Amy Lingenfelder (Fairfax, Va.), 7.9 points per game; 5-5 guard Alex Stewart (Norcross, Ga.), 4.9; 6-2 forward-center Tamika Boatner (Memphis, Tenn.), 1.9; and 6-4 center Sonya Mallory (The Bronx, N.Y.), 3.0.
“Everybody will play, but some of them who played regularly have already shown me what they can do,” said Berenato. “So I’m going to play the younger kids who didn’t play as much so they can get five games of great basketball experience, like Tamika Boatner, Sonya Mallory, Alex Stewart and Amy Lingenfelder. In a scrimmage last week, we played the freshmen against the upperclassmen. The upperclass team had one sub, the freshmen didn’t, and the freshmen killed them. It wouldn’t surprise me if we started five freshmen. But that’s the objective for this tour.”
Also making the trip are 5-8 junior guard Milli Martinez (Imlay City, Mich.), who averaged 9.9 points and 5.4 rebounds last season; 5-11 senior forward Regina Tate (Columbus, Ga.), 6.7 points and 6.8 rebounds; 6-1 senior center Candice McCallum (Barnegat, N.J.), 6.3 points; 5-11 junior Lindsey Aves (Waterloo, Iowa), 1.0; and 5-7 sophomore guard Ashley Ebert (Spartanburg, S.C.), 1.7.
“We have worked on a lot of our zones, and we’ve worked on the rules changes,” said Berenato. “They play with a 24-second clock. We’re playing with the men’s (size) ball, and you have only eight seconds to get the ball past halfcourt. So they press a lot. That’s what we’ve been working on. We were allowed 10 practice sessions to get ready for this.”