Nov. 12, 2002
Armed with the return of one of the dominating forwards in the Ivy League, coupled with one of the Ivy League's top recruiting classes, head coach Jean Burr's women's basketball team is ready to return to the upper echelon of the Ivy League standings.
"We have a strong nucleus of returning players and some dynamic newcomers, who will have a major impact on the success of our program, said Coach Burr, the winningest coach in Brown basketball history. "Our offense returns two of our top three scorers in Nyema Mitchell and Tanara Golston, and we have a solid inside presence. Our program is headed in the right direction and I'm especially excited about the influx of young talent into our program."
If Burr can get the offense going, the Bears will be in great shape with one of the top defensive units in the Ivy League. Last year's team led the Ivy League and ranked 38th nationally in field goal defense, allowing just 37 percent shooting from the field by its opponents. In addition, the Bears led the Ivy League in blocked shots with 4.56 per game.
Frontcourt: The Bears will be led by 6-0 junior forward Nyema Mitchell, a second team All-Ivy selection last year. Mitchell, a dominating defender, led the Ivy League in blocked shots with 61, the fifth highest season total ever at Brown. She led the Bears in rebounding with 9.1 per game, and ranked second in scoring with 11.2 points per game. She posted seven double-doubles and was named to the All-Tournament teams at both the UIC Thanksgiving Tournament and the Brown Classic.
Mitchell's recorded 2.3 blocks per game last season, which ranked among the nation's Top 20. Her 98 career blocked shots rank fourth in Brown history. She scored a career high 22 points against Air Force and pulled down a career high 16 rebounds against Cornell.
"Nyema is just starting to reach her potential as a player," said coach Burr. "The sky's the limit in terms of how successful she can be. Nyema has tremendous athletic ability and excellent timing. As Nyema's post moves improve and she matures as a player, she could be the strongest inside player in the Ivy League."
Joining Mitchell in the front court is junior Miranda Craigwell, Brown's top shooter from the field for the last two years. Mitchell converted 46 of 94 (.489) shots from the field last year after shooting 50 percent as a freshman. She posted a double-double against Dartmouth last season, scoring 11 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field, while grabbing 11 rebounds.
The key to the Bears frontcourt could be the play of 6-5 sophomore Holly Robertson, whose size alters opponents shooting in the paint. Robertson proved she can play on the Division I level by registering a double-double against Columbia, scoring 11 points and hauling in 11 rebounds, both season highs. Also contributing to the front court sophomores Christine Okike and Sandra Idehen, who saw limited playing time a year ago.
Burr is excited about three outstanding newcomers who will be joining the Bears front court. Freshman Julia Barton, an honorable mention All-State selection, joins the Bears after averaging 16 points and 7.6 rebounds a game at Lakewood (Ohio) High School. A two-time team captain, freshman Adriana Bates scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds a game as a senior for 20-2 Tully (NY) High School. She was a first team All-America at the USA Junior National Basketball Tournament. Freshman Ashley Bernius averaged 8 points and 7 rebounds per game for Walt Whitman (MD) High School, and was named to the Montgomery Country Senior All-Star Team.
Backcourt: Burr returns Tanara Golston who saw action in all 26 games last season. Golston, a junior guard, earned 12 starts for last year's team, averaging 7.2 points and 2.4 rebounds a game. She ranked 15th in the Ivy League with 1.5 steals per game and 2.29 assists per game. Golston netted a season high 15 points against Princeton while handing out a season best 7 assists against both Princeton and Pepperdine.
The Bears coaching staff brought in some high scoring freshmen for 2002-2003. Freshman Sarah Hayes was the Region 6-4A Player of the Year and All-State selection after averaging 21 points and grabbing 9.3 rebounds a game at Battery Creek (SC) High School. Freshman Colleen Kelly, the all-time career scorer in Webster (NY) High School history, was a four year All-Monroe County selection, who averaged 20 points and 7.1 rebounds a game as a senior. Freshman Ashley Van Kurin, an All-Orange County selection, who was MVP of the Orange County Tournament, scored 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals per game for Esperanza (CA) High School. Freshman Jaclyn Vocell was named a USA Today Rising Star while averaging 18.9 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds a game at Timberlane (NH) High School.