To say Dunston did it all may be an understatement. She led the team in scoring (13.5 points per game), rebounds (9.1 per game), blocks (1.5 per game) and field goal shooting (44.2 percent). But according to third-year head coach Jerry Ingenito, the Lady Knights might be a better team without Dunston.
"Not to knock her, because if she didn't score, then we didn't score," Ingenito said. "But we lived and died with Kiki for two years. Now we have to rely on everyone to get involved in the offense."
Leading the group of returnees is senior April Gross, but the Lady Knights have so much talent that the team's leading returning scorer may not even start.
"I think we're pretty deep," Ingenito said. "The freshmen are going to play and being a senior-laden team is going to help too."
One freshman who is guaranteed to see a lot of minutes is Erin Dollard, who joins older sister Theresa on the team.
"She is a big player," Ingenito said of Erin. "She can play anywhere from point guard to power forward. But more than that, her attitude rubs off on people. She has already gained the respect of her teammates."
Erin Dollard, who like Theresa played her high school ball at Grover Cleveland, had the opportunity to play Division I college basketball, but instead chose to learn from Ingenito.
"I could have gone to a Division I school, but I wanted to play for a Division I coach," Dollard said. "He could pretty much go to any Division I school he wants. I learned so much from him already in the preseason."
Joining the strong crop of newcomers are post players Theresa Williams, a 6-foot-3 freshman from St. John's Prep, 6-foot-2 Kerri Graham from New York high school powerhouse Shenendehowa and Melanie Iseli, a 5-foot-11 transfer from Division I St. Francis (N.Y.).
Rounding out the newcomers is freshman guard Crystal Wilson, a walk-on whose hard work in practice has earned her minutes as a backup guard.
Returning for Queens, which finished the 1999-00 season with a 8-18 (6-16) record are frontcourt players Gross, Elena Rakova, Theresa Dollard and Alanna LeGall. Guards Jill Kraft, Anica Gant, Antonette Tirone and Lynda Day give Ingenito several different options on the court.
"I think we can push the ball better. In our scrimmages we've been able to break away for easy baskets and our big people are active and quick," Ingenito said.
"We have more people at different positions as opposed to last year," Gross added. "Everybody seems to want to play better and for the first time we have everyone healthy at the beginning of the year."
After playing tight games against Southampton and Philadelphia Textile - two of the top teams in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference - Ingenito said he believes his team can compete with just about any team in the conference this year. Losing the College of St. Rose, ranked No. 1 in the country for a good portion of last year, to the Northeast-10 conference and New Jersey Institute of Technology to the Central Athletic Collegiate Conference doesn't hurt either.
"We can beat anybody," Ingenito said. "We can be there. Just being here for three years, we've gotten better. Plus this year, we can plug some people in different situations."
One reason for Ingenito's optimism is the way his team played in the Island Gardens NCAA-sanctioned summer league. Facing NYCAC opponents including Adelphi and Molloy, the Lady Knights won the championship.
Replacing St. Rose and NJIT are the University of Bridgeport and St. Thomas Aquinas. Concordia has also recently dropped its women's program, but has not been replaced in the NYCAC.
In addition to its NYCAC slate, Ingenito has assembled a tough non-conference schedule, including a season-opening tournament Nov. 24 and 25 at North Dakota State, a team that won the Division II NCAA tournament five times in the 1990s and lost in the finals last year. Queens will also face the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown, another 1999-00 tournament team.
©2000 Community News Group
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