November 03, 2004 11:00 pm
Senior Jamie Jo Cant, pictured during a game last season, led Eastern Oregon in scoring at 13 points per game. (Observer file photo).
Senior Jamie Jo Cant, pictured during a game last season, led Eastern Oregon in scoring at 13 points per game. (Observer file photo).

By Dan Jones

For the Observer

Eastern Oregon University women's basketball head coach Anji Weissenfluh said fans should expect a younger and less experienced Mountaineer squad than last year's record-breaking crew. Of course, she doesn't look for anyone to be as successful as the NAIA playoff dark horses that rode away with a 26-3 season in 2003-2004.

"I don't expect anyone to repeat those numbers in a long time. Those will be remembered for quite some time," Weissen-fluh said. "We only have two seniors, last year we had seven. Don't count them out though. They will give them (the fans) an exciting style of play to come and watch."

EOU continues the season with an exhibition game tonight at home against Blue Mountain Community College of Pendle-ton. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. in Quinn Coliseum. The Mountain-eers host Walla Walla Commu-nity College Nov. 9.

EOU, which lost in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament last season in Sioux City, Iowa, to Dominican Univer-sity, reappears fresh-faced, but with talent to burn. Weissenfluh said that the 2004-2005 EOU team has 14 new players and only four returners.

The Mountaineers, albeit revamped, will value the veteran experience and prowess of senior point guard Jamie Jo Cant, sophomore Christie Weaver and Clark Community College transfer Tiffanie Sperry.

However, Cant's eligibility must be clarified before she can play this season.

"Our offense will try to recoup towards the get-up-and-down-the-floor transition game. We even recruited around that. We will try to push all the more this year to create more easy offense. Teams will be ready for that, so our set plays will try to utilize mismatches," she said. "We'll play an up-tempo style."

Cant, an Imbler native, has helped the squad win over 60 games in her career. She led EOU in scoring last year, averaging 13 points per game.

"Our team is centered around her, she gives us a complete game," she said.

Weaver, one of La Grande High School's most successful female basketball players, came off the bench for most of last season. Now, the deadly 5-foot-10 sharpshooter with equally effective ball handling skills has the go-ahead to fire.

"We are looking for great things from her and Cant. She's going from sixth man to starting lineup. She gives us offense and shooting ability," Weissenfluh added.

At least four transfers will receive significant playing time. Height is once again a dilemma for EOU, but Weissenfluh hopes aggressive play, including blocking out and setting durable screens, will even the scales.

Andra Peterson, a junior from Walla Walla Community College, is a 5-7 forward who has exceptional court vision and strength. Versatile junior Ashley Jones looks to come off the bench and, once again, serve as the squad's spark plug.

"There is no one in our program that hustles like Ashley," said Weissenfluh.

A Spokane Community Col-lege recruit, junior guard Heidi Horobioski will complement the game of Cant and Weaver.

Forward and center Sperry will share time at the post position with senior Sarah Smith, who led EOU in blocks in 2003-2004.

Freshman Elise Hawes, who was also on the EOU soccer squad, is a talented all-around athlete who will help round out the five spot.

Point guard Vanessa Shelton, a junior from Spokane, and 2003-2004 Pendleton High School sensation, Amica Vogler, will look to fill big shoes – those of former handler Tricia Haddock.

"Those two have a tough job but will give us two different styles that compliment each other," Weissenfluh said.

Vogler sustained a stress fracture recently, though, and will be out for up to six weeks.

EOU's first Cascade Colleg-iate Conference action is Dec. 17 against Evergreen State College.

Weissenfluh said it will take some time, but her team might produce a surprise.

"You know we would like to have some of that success carry over. We brought a very talented group in and our expectations have not been lowered. We expect to be in the hunt down the stretch," she added.