Sights Set Toward NCAA Tournament Bid
In her third season as head coach, Natasha Adair leads a Georgetown women’s basketball team poised to make an impact in the Big East and beyond.
Last season, the Hoyas boasted the third best turnaround in Division I, finishing the season with a 16-14 record after winning only four games the year before. Georgetown was 9-9 in conference play and entered the Big East Tournament as the fifth seed. At the league’s preseason media day, the Hoyas were projected to finish fifth in the Big East this season.
“It motivates us to be better,” Adair said of the team’s projection. “We have to be that consistent team. If you want them to respect you as much as the top teams, we have to play like them. It’s good versus great. They didn’t pick us last, they picked us fifth. And so they’re saying ‘Okay, they’re good.’ But we want to be great.”
Adair predicts the conference to be highly competitive this season. Much like last year, she expects most matchups to be anybody’s game to win.
“There is no ‘give me’ in the league right now. And that’s the fun part,” Adair said. “We’re all on coach’s calls, and we’re talking about the league, and we just say, ‘Just throw the ball up. We don’t know.’ And that makes our conference one of the top in the country.”
The Hoyas will play a challenging nonconference schedule to ready them for the league play that will consume that latter half of the season. The team will open up against George Washington on Nov. 11 before hitting the road for seven straight games.
“It helps prepare us for our league. We’re not running from anyone. We’re putting our kids in front of some top opponents in different leagues, so we’ll see different styles of play, different offenses, different defenses and how tough we are. Because it’s going to come down to toughness,” Adair said of the team’s tough nonconference slate.
Adair feels the team’s extensive time on the road will serve as effective preparation for the postseason.
“We will be road-tested for sure,” Adair said. “My speech to the team is, ‘We’re going to win a championship on the road. So we have to get used to playing in those environments. Why wait?’”
After reaching the Women’s National Invitational Tournament last season and suffering a tough 2-point loss to Rutgers in the opening round, Georgetown is determined to return to postseason play this year. The Hoyas have set their sights beyond the WNIT. The team hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.
“That’s the plan. That’s what we want, that’s what we’re hungry for,” Adair said of her team’s goal of making the NCAA Tournament.
The Hoyas will be led in their quest for a postseason berth by the backcourt duo of junior guard Dorothy Adomako and sophomore guard Dionna White. Both players were unanimous selections to this year’s Preseason All-Big East Team and will be crucial to Georgetown’s success.
Senior forward Faith Woodard and junior guard DiDi Burton will also return for the Hoyas this season. They each bring significant court experience and will likely be major contributors.
According to Adair, junior center Yazmine Belk will also be a key player for the Hoyas this year. Belk played in 26 games for Georgetown last season. She averaged only 2.2 points during her sophomore campaign but led the team in blocks with 35.
“Yasmine Belk is going to surprise you,” Adair said. “She has this confidence about her right now.”
New to the team this year are freshman center Olivia Ramil and freshman guard Morgan Smith. Adair anticipates that they will both see significant court time during their first season with the Hoyas.
“I know that Olivia and Morgan will both have an integral part to what we do. I need them in so many different areas,” Adair said. “They will both have big minutes, big time.”
Two new transfers will also be available for Georgetown this season. Junior forward Cynthia Petke joins the team from Chipola College — a junior college in Marianna, Fla. Petke, known for her rebounding prowess, will be a presence on the boards for the Hoyas. Senior guard Mykia Jones, who transferred to Georgetown from Wake Forest and was ineligible to play last season, will add further depth at the guard position.
“I think this team is just built to where whenever they step out there, they know their role, and we don’t just talk points. We talk efficiency based on their skill set or based on their gifts, so you’re going to meet new faces and you’re going to know new names,” Adair said.
Regardless of what combination of players is on the floor at any given time, Adair believes that the level of intensity the Hoyas bring to the game will remain consistent.
“You’re going to see different lineups, you’re going to see different personnel, but the one thing that I just love about what this team is going to bring this year is just that toughness, that competitive edge and versatility,” Adair said.
The bar has been set high for the Hoyas this season. The team begins its quest to meet those expectations on Nov. 11. Tipoff at McDonough Arena is set for 7 p.m.
(Cover photo: Daniel Smith/The Hoya)