The 2010-11 season for the Diablo Valley College women's basketball team has been one of new beginnings. A new head coach and a nearly all-freshmen roster signaled both a tangible and symbolic break form the Vikings' programs of the past.
However, in the wake of change often comes growing pains. For the DVC women, this season has been both disappointing and frustrating in terms of wins and losses. With four games left, the Vikings entered play this week 7-16 overall, 1-9 in Big 8 Conference play and in the midst of a seven-game losing streak.
With a roster that had been whittled down to six due to injuries and academic issues, new head coach Ramaundo Vaughn had his starting five essentially picked for him. Among this group of starters, primarily freshmen, are girls who had been role players seeing limited minutes off the bench in high school.
"We have had to change (the girls') mentality in a matter of months," explained Vaughn. "A lot of these girls haven't been scorers before and we're trying to get them to take the open shot and recognize when they have those opportunities "... Just trying to get them to be more offensive-minded."
Freshman forward Hannah Dehgham exemplifies what Vaughn was talking about and also has shown a hint of the potential the Vikings will have going into next season. Primarily a bench player at Clayton Valley High, Dehgham has become a force on the boards, ranked fourth in the state in rebounding while averaging over 11 rebounds a game. Her coach compared her rebounding prowess to a "female Dennis Rodman."
"I know I'm not a really strong offensive player," said Dehgham. "When I came to the team I didn't really know what to offer. I figured if I could grab enough rebounds and give us more chances to score then that would help us become a better team."
"She's been such a revelation," said Vaughn. "She doesn't have as much size as some of the girls she goes up against at 5-foot-8, but she just outworks them. She's getting more out of her skills than anyone else on the team."
Averaging a double-double for the season with 22 points and 10 rebounds a game, forward Diane Moore is another player that's off to an amazing freshman year as the Vikings' only consistent offensive threat. Born in the Bay Area, Moore grew up in Japan and had some initial doubts about being able to balance basketball and schoolwork. But after exchanging a few emails and a brief workout with Vaughn, the DVC coach knew he had some talent on his hands. The question was: would she want to play?
"After seeing her," said Vaughn, "I called up her father and told him, 'You won't need to pay for college.' She was that good. Soon after that she decided to come and play for us."
In addition to the cultural adjustments Moore would have to make attending school in the United States, she'd also have to learn to become a more offensive player, just like the rest of her teammates. Contrary to what this year's stats may suggest, she never had the reputation as a great shooter before this season. She played primarily as a redbounder for her Japanese high school, a perennial national championship contender.
"I wasn't really a scorer before," said Moore. "I was a little bit bigger than some of the Japanese girls. I played a lot in the post and set screens. Now I need to learn how to play the perimeter."
With seemingly a vast amount of untapped potential in Moore and the continual development of players like Dehgham and freshman guard Taylor Allen, things look brighter for the Vikings in the coming season. Everyone seems to be optimistic about the possibility of five of the six players on the roster returning for 2011-2012.
"I'm so excited for next year," said Dehgham. "We've really come together as a group this year. There's a lot of potential for us."
"This year has been frustrating at times," said Vaughn, "but I've a great coaching staff and a lot of support from men's program and the athletic department "... I feel like we're headed in the right direction. It just takes patience."