Last season, with a roster including 10 returning players and five seniors, the team quadrupled its 2014-15 season win total, finishing with a record of 16-14. This year, Head Coach Natasha Adair will add even more veteran leadership in the form of two transfers — junior guard Mikayla Venson from the University of Virginia and junior forward Cynthia Petke from Chipola College.
Like many coaches, Adair does not like to look beyond the near future and the season ahead of her. However, even she has to make an exception when discussing Venson, who transferred to Georgetown and will be eligible to take the court next season for the Hoyas.
“We’re already drawing up stuff for when they’re on the court,” Adair said. “At that point we need to be a contender for sure, in everything. Because we will at that point have pretty much everything. But we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”
Venson, a 5-foot-7 guard, played two productive seasons for Virginia. As a sophomore, she led the Cavaliers with 15.1 points per game, setting a single-season school record with 70 three-pointers on 38 percent shooting.
Her outside shooting will bring a new element to Georgetown’s roster, as the Hoyas’ entire team combined for 106 three-pointers on 26.1 percent shooting last season. Venson also averaged a team-high 2.7 assists and grabbed 2.5 rebounds per game.
“I think I just bring a lot of energy,” Venson said. “I’m a big competitor, so I love to win of course, and just do whatever I need to do to get a win. And whatever I need to help my teammates with just to get a W, that’s what I’m worried about — just bring the energy all the time.”
Adair is particularly excited about the guard trio that Venson will form alongside junior guard Dorothy Adomako and sophomore guard Dionna White. All three players scored at least 14.5 points per game last season, and each brings a contrasting skill set to threaten opponents in Adair’s fast-paced offense.
Adomako, at 6 foot 1 inch tall, provides length, athleticism and versatile scoring ability from the wing. White, at 5 foot 5 inches tall, is another jet-quick guard who can break down a defense and get to the rim. Adair believes that Venson’s skills complement her new teammates well and will present a huge challenge for opposing defenses.
“We talk about that often, but we try not to get too far ahead, like a whole year,” Adair said. “I’m excited to see it all unfold, but even sitting out this year she’s having an impact because she’s such a smart student-athlete. She loves this game.”
Venson is also excited about forming a trio alongside Adomako and White.
“I just think that we’re going to really mesh well together,” Venson said. “I bring a lot of energy and I like to get people involved. So I know we’re going to be feeding each other the ball and creating opportunities for one another, so it’s going to be really surprising and exciting for a lot of people.”
Petke, a 6-foot-2 forward, will be eligible to play immediately and is expected to take on a significant role. A native of Cameroon, Petke has played two seasons of basketball in America, the first at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas and the second at Chipola College in Florida. She averaged a double-double in each of her two seasons, with 15.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game at Hutchinson and 14.4 points and 11 rebounds per game at Chipola.
Petke’s rebounding ability has stood out to Adair in practices, particularly after the graduation of forward Dominique Vitalis (MSB ’16), who was one of the team’s top rebounders.
“Every day, you knew Dom was going to come to work and give you production every day,” Adair said. “And so Cynthia, she has just a knack for rebounding. I mean, she headhunts it, she goes and gets them, and that’s something that we challenge the whole team [to do].”
Petke is also a versatile offensive player, and she is expected to play in a slightly different role than she has in the past.
“Probably the biggest adjustment for me is because here the coach wants to put me outside,” Petke said. “And when I was in junior college, I was a little bit playing more of inside, so probably my biggest adjustment would be to pick up my skill set.”
Adair is also excited about Petke’s experience and leadership ability.
“She is just blue-collar, gets her hands dirty, and she’s not going to be done until the job is done,” Adair said. “And she’s bringing that energy in the gym. Coming in now as a junior, she has the maturity. She has the voice. She has the leadership.”
Coming off a strong season, Adair now has the unusual luxury of adding two newcomers to her roster who will also take on leadership roles. Now, all that is left is for Venson and Petke to show their skills on the court.