NEW YORK - Columbia women's basketball is set to kick off
the season this Friday at noon in Levien Gym against Long Island.
Looking to bounce back from a 3-25, 1-15 Ivy League season
in 2011-12, the Lions are prepared to gain momentum in returning 13
letterwinners and four starters while being joined by three talented newcomers.
This season's edition of the Columbia women's basketball
team will feature a number of players, both experienced and new to the program
competing for playing time in the backcourt.
"We have a number of players who can break the defense down
off the dribble and create shots for their teammates," said Columbia women's
basketball head coach Paul Nixon. "We also have players capable of stepping up and
knocking down those shots. There is a lot of depth in the backcourt and
competition for playing time at the guard positions has already been fierce in
our preseason practices."
Some of Columbia's strongest returners are loading up the
backcourt this season, including senior co-captain Brittany Simmons.
Simmons bounced back from an injury in 2010-11 to see action
in 18 games, during which she posted a season-high nine points against Vermont
in the season opener and again vs. Morgan State.
"Led by Simmons, the attitudes of all the players as they've
pushed each other hard in practice has resulted in improved play around the
perimeter across the board," stated Nixon.
Junior Taylor Ward is also expected to make an impact in the
backcourt after ending the 2012 season as Columbia's third leading scorer,
averaging 7.3 points per game. Ward played in 25 games last season while starting
in 17 and hit a career-high of 12 points on two occasions.
Juniors Courtney Bradford and Nicole Santucci and senior co-captain
Tyler Simpson will lead the way for the Lions in front court play this season.
Simpson earned Honorable Mention All-Ivy recognition
following a breakout junior season last year and led Columbia in scoring,
averaging 12.6 points per game, including a career-high 26 points against
Bradford returns as the top rebounder from 2012, as she
finished the season with a team-best 6.5 rebounds per game.
Santucci saw action in 23 games in her sophomore season and is
ready to make some noise following a strong preseason performance.
"All three players spent the summer here in New York working
on improving their games and increasing their overall strength level," said
Nixon. "Their work has paid off with much improved play from all three during
our preseason practices. There is also a trio of sophomores and one first-year
player who will compete for minutes in the frontcourt."
After kicking off the season at home vs. Long Island on
November 9, the Lions will head to Vermont on Sunday before returning home to
face Wagner and Fairleigh Dickinson. Over Thanksgiving break, Columbia will
begin a four-game road swing at Morgan State, Army, Bryant and Colgate.
Next, the Lions return home for a pair of games against Iona
and Saint Francis, followed by a trip out west for showdowns at Long Beach
State and Cal State Fullerton. Columbia wraps up non-league play on the road at
Lehigh and home vs. Lehigh before beginning the Ivy League slate at Cornell on
Saturday, January 19.
"The 2012-2013 schedule features a number of local
rivals visiting Levien Gym. We also have a trip to California for two games
right after Christmas that will help prepare us for our final two tune-up games
before the 14-game Ivy schedule begins in January."