Women's Basketball

Lady Vikings Ranked Number One In The Country

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Tuesday, January 9, 2001

    Initially, the news left Colleen Ferris unable to do anything more than form an "O" with her lips. The normally eloquent second-year coach was speechless upon discovering where Hudson Valley Community College is ranked in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III women's basketball poll, released today.

    "Number one?" Ferris said. "Wow. I never really expected that. I mean, I knew we'd be ranked. I figured if we got into the top five, that'd be great. Realistically, I was figuring we'd be in the top eight. But number one in the country?"

    Based on the strength of a 12-0 first-half record, the Vikings debuted at the top of the national rankings, ahead of perennial powerhouses such as College of DuPage, from Illinois, and Utica's Mohawk Valley Community College. Today's poll is the first one released since the preseason poll, on which Hudson Valley was not present.

    "This is a total surprise," Ferris said. "This is the whole country we're talking about. Yeah, we're good, but you really have no idea what other states and conferences are like, who's better than you."

    Undefeated Hudson Valley, also ranked first in the most recent NJCAA Division III Region III coach's poll, has not been ranked in the top 10 nationally since 1993-94, when Paul Bishop was coach.

    Ferris's surprise at being touted as number one in the United States is understandable. After all, winning a majority of games at Hudson Valley is still somewhat new to the former SUNY Cortland player.

    Ferris accepted Hudson Valley's head coaching position just one month before the start of the 1999-2000 campaign, leaving no time to build a team. With only 30 days until tip-off, recruiting was out of the question. As a result, Hudson Valley posted a 7-18 record last season.

    So how does Ferris explain the sudden turnaround?

    "Luck has helped," said the coach, laughing. "Seriously though, if you think about it, this area is a hotbed for high school girls' basketball. There's no better area in the state; just look at all the girls who have gone on lately to play Division I. And then you have to look at all Hudson Valley has to offer. We have everything a student-athlete could want. If they want to concentrate on academics, save money and play competitive basketball – it's all right here. And that's how I've been selling the program, and getting players who can turn the program around."

    So after the 1999-2000 season ended, mercifully, Ferris dove even deeper into her work. She scoured local high school games, searching for quality players willing to wear the Lady Vikings' white and green.

    It was a fruitful search.

    "Honestly, it's been amazing," said Kara Sheehan (Catholic Central), one of this year's co-captains. The second-year guard/forward, one of just two returnees, is averaging 16.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. She's also hitting 56.1 percent of her field goal attempts. "Last year, teams were blowing us out, and now we're number one in the country. I guess the difference is that we've got more dedicated players this year. Plus, everybody contributes."

    Sheehan is reluctant to single out the team's most impressive players, insisting that Hudson Valley's 12-0 record is a product of unity, but when pressed, she lauded several freshmen.

    "Well, our point guard, Megan Davis, doesn't get enough credit," Sheehan says. "If you look at turnovers, she doesn't turn the ball over." As Hudson Valley's primary ball distributor, Davis, from Greenwich, is averaging just 2.3 turnovers per game. "She has excellent ball control.

    "Then there's Lindsey Bradt." The first-year guard/forward from Bishop Maginn is contributing a team-high 18.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. "She's just got an excellent all-around game.

    "And we've also got Meghan Squires. She gives us rebounding and scoring."

    Squires (Hoosic Valley), whose sister was a member of Hudson Valley's national championship squad in 1992-93, gives the Lady Vikings 10.2 points and 6.7 boards per contest.

    Ferris, meanwhile, points to Sheehan as an instrumental player. She says Sheehan, who averaged 17.4 points and 8.0 rebounds during each of last year's rocky outings, has made much of this year's success possible.

     "Kara has been a great leader," Ferris said. "She knows what we went through last year and she doesn't want that to happen again. She's done what she can to prevent letdowns. Any leadership has come from her."

    "Whenever there's tension between my teammates, I don't consider it any of my business, unless they bring it onto the basketball court," Sheehan said. "Then it's my job to step in. Somebody needs to be a leader."

    Defensively, Hudson Valley is holding its opponents to 48.1 points per game. The Lady Vikings are scoring 69.6 points per game.

     Hudson Valley's winter break ends at 3:30 p.m. on January 13, when the Lady Vikings travel to Herkimer Community College for a Mountain Valley Conference matchup. Hudson Valley's next home contest is slated for 7 p.m. on January 22, against SUNY Delhi. The Lady Vikings practice at the McDonough Complex from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday.

    "I'm really proud of my players," Ferris said. "They've worked really hard and made a lot of sacrifices. Not only are we 12-0, but we have a 3.0 GPA as a team. Everything we've done has taken a lot of focus. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but my players have been totally committed to academics and basketball. They're well-rounded people."

    "And hopefully being ranked number one will get us fired up," Sheehan said. "We won't get cocky, but we'll keep playing hard as a team."

    Hudson Valley Community College, located in Troy, offers more than 50 degree and certificate programs in four academic divisions; Business; Engineering and Industrial Technologies; Health Sciences; and Liberal Arts and Sciences. One of 30 community colleges in the State University of New York system, Hudson Valley has an enrollment of more than 9,000 students each year, and is known as a leader in distance learning initiatives and worker retraining.