New Coach Ready to Lead Experienced Jeffs Back to the Top
Senior tri-captain Stefanie Reiff earned All-NESCAC Second Team honors last season.
Last season’s Jeffs got off to a shaky 1-3 start but rattled off five consecutive wins to get back on track. After another three-game skid that included a non-conference loss to Williams and a heartbreaker to a very good Tufts team, Amherst once again rebounded by winning five of its next six games, with the only loss coming in a nail-biting conference match-up with the Ephs. The Jeffs headed into the final stretch in good position with a 12-8 overall record and 3-2 NESCAC mark, but they dropped four consecutive conference games (three by five points or fewer) to close out the regular season. Amherst earned a No. 6 seed in the NESCAC Championship Tournament but could not advance past No. 3 Bates, as the Jeffs ended their season with a 12-13 record (3-6 NESCAC).
The Jeffs graduated only one senior this past May, as they will no longer feature the three-point shooting skills of Jenny Muller. After playing for Tufts University in the 2003-04 season, Muller transferred to Amherst and played a very consistent three years, having averaged between nine and 10 points in each of her three seasons. Muller’s field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage each increased from year to year, and during her senior season she ranked ninth in the NESCAC in three-pointers made (30) and 10th in three-point field goal percentage (.315). She was a well-balanced player for the Jeffs, as she finished her career averaging 3.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 9.3 points while starting in 67 of a possible 74 games.
Amherst returns a strong senior class that should provide great leadership on and off the court. Point guard Shaina Pollack was named to last year’s Amherst Classic All-Tournament Team and finished the season averaging 8.0 points and 3.7 assists per game, marking the NESCAC’s seventh highest assist average. Anne-Claire Roesch averaged 4.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game last year, having led the Jeffs in rebounding in five of 25 games. Stefanie Reiff, a 2006-07 All-NESCAC Second Team selection, returns as Amherst’s leading scorer, as she averaged 13.2 points per game as a junior. Reiff was named the Pioneer Valley Classic Most Valuable Player and once earned NESCAC Co-Player of the Week honors, finishing with the conference’s best free throw percentage (.830) and seventh best field goal percentage (.472).
Senior tri-captain Anne-Claire Roesch averaged 4.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a junior.
Amherst’s junior class is its largest, as the Jeffs feature five members of the class of 2008. Leading the charge will be Kerry O’Loughlin, who started in all 25 games as a sophomore. In addition to averaging 5.1 rebounds and 9.8 points per game, O’Loughlin demonstrated her ability to come through in the clutch when she buried a game-winning three-pointer with 5.6 seconds remaining against Springfield College in the Pioneer Valley Classic, as she earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. Joining O’Loughlin are Stacy Brossy, Susannah Ludwig, Yasmine Harik and Amanda Otieno. While Brossy and Otieno will provide depth to the guard position, Ludwig and Harik will add depth in the post. Harik demonstrated her ability to score when she dropped 14 points against Williams in her rookie season.
Representing the sophomore class is reigning NESCAC Rookie of the Year Sam Swensen, who led last year’s Jeffs in offensive rebounds per game (2.5), blocks (17) and field goal percentage (.498; 2nd in NESCAC), adding 9.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Swensen will be Amherst’s go-to player if the Jeffs’ shooting game is off, as she is very effective in the paint.
The Jeffs welcome four first-years to the team, as Kristyn Dunleavy, Courtney Long, Sarah Leyman and Jaclyn Daigneault are each expected to make immediate and significant contributions. Amherst also welcomes head coach GP Gromacki, who arrived at Amherst with an .811 career winning percentage as a head coach. The Western Massachusetts native comes to Amherst by way of Hamilton College, where he spent one season as the head coach. Prior to Hamilton, he was a two-year assistant coach at Division I Temple University after a six-year stint as the head coach at Saint Lawrence University. Joining Gromacki on the sidelines will be Brittany Gaetano, who was a standout player at Saint Lawrence for four years, where her recruitment and rookie season were under the guidance of Gromacki. In addition to being a four-year starter at point guard, Gaetano was a two-time captain of the Saints. While playing for Gromacki, Gaetano was awarded the Ronald C. Hoffman First-Year Scholar-Athlete Award in 2003-04.
Amherst will once again begin its season by hosting the Amherst Classic and will kick things off with a 6 p.m. game against City College of New York on Saturday, Nov. 17. The Jeffs will play their usual non-conference opponents, against whom Amherst posted a 6-2 record last year, but this year have added Southern Vermont College to the slate. Highlighting the 2007-08 schedule is a trip to Fort Lauderdale, FL, where the Jeffs will take on Endicott and Saint Norbert colleges in the Florida Sunshine Shootout on the campus of Broward Community College. Amherst will return from Florida to play Southern Vermont, Williams and Wesleyan in non-conference games before kicking off the NESCAC schedule Friday, Jan. 18 at Tufts. Nine of the final 10 games of the regular season are conference games, with a home match-up against Western New England College sandwiched in between.