Vermont women’s basketball team makes waves nationally

The Catamount women’s basketball team made a strong step toward national prominence by defeating Boston University in the America East conference final to move on to the NCAA tournament.The excitement that came with the bid was quickly quelled, though only slightly, when the NCAA selection committee revealed that the Lady Cats were not only a 16 seed, but a 16 seed facing the best team in the country — undefeated UConn.Vermont fell 104-65 in that matchup, but with the loss to the eventual national champions came some much-earned national attention and a great step forward for the team and Catamount athletics as a whole. The women’ nod into the tournament paired Vermont with Notre Dame as the only two schools in the nation at the time with their men’s basketball, women’s basketball and men’s hockey teams competing at the same time in the postseason.The team will suffer some losses heading into next season, as they will lose their third through sixth leading scorers to graduation — Amy Rosenkrantz, Kelli Poles, Sy Janousek and Andrea Cihal respectively.  Joining that group are guard Sarah Madey and forward Jill Rademacher.With that amount of turnover, however, head coach Sharon Dawley has plenty of room to bring in proficient recruits, who will likely flourish under the tutelage of will-be seniors and 2008-09 leading scorers Courtnay Pilypaitis and May Kotsopoulos.Joining that duo is will-be junior forward Tonya Young, who proved herself as a skilled post player this past season and will likely be a great compliment to the backcourt scoring combo that is Pilypaitis-Kotsopoulos.Along with Young, the Catamounts will look for will-be senior guard Sofia Iwobi — a player whom Dawley once stated “has the best pull up jumper I have seen in a while” — to add to her offensive output from 2009 and help carry some of the backcourt scoring load.The Lady Cats are certainly disappointed with an early exit from the NCAA tournament, and only time will tell if the team will make a return venture into March Madness in 2009.One fact remains true, however — all eyes in Catamount Country will be glued to a team that has proved itself as a force to be reckoned with on the hardwood.