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The Orion

Women’s basketball goes on without graduated guards

Chico State women's basketball player Hannah Womack works on her free throw shooting in practice. Photo credit: John Domogma

Having more new players than returners on any team is always a challenge. With only six returning players for the Chico State women’s basketball team, head Coach Brian Fogel expects some growing pains this season.

“It’s a big turnover,” he said. “We have six freshmen out there and we’re learning on a daily basis.”

Two junior college transfers also join the Wildcat squad that went 19-10 and reached the NCAA West Region semifinals in 2013-2014.

The team now begins the post-Courtney Hamilton and Jazmine Miller era. The pair of two time First Team All-California Collegiate Athletic Association guards have since graduated.

Hamilton concluded her standout career with All-America Honorable Mention recognition and the second most assists in program history. She also posted a career high 8.4 points per game while leading the CCAA in assists with 178. Hamilton’s league-high assist mark equated to a 6.1 assists per game average, good for third best in the nation.

Miller ended her career ranking ninth in Chico State history for points scored and fifth for three-pointers, all while leading the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Both guards also played over 30 minutes per game last season.

Current senior guard Annie Ward has fond memories of the now graduated cornerstones.

“I had a great experience playing with (Hamilton) and (Miller) for three years,” Ward said. “They both were people on the team that I could look up to. Courtney and I spent a lot of time not only on the court but off the court. (Miller) and I would always be in the gym doing shooting workouts before and after practice. Over the course of the three years I played with them, we become very close and I consider both of them to be my best friends.”

One of just four seniors on this year’s team, Ward was influenced by the many positive traits of Hamilton and Miller, she said. She will make an extra effort to be supportive and lead by example to guide her younger teammates.

“Courtney and Jazmine left leadership, work ethic, energy, discipline and multiple other great characteristics on (us) returners that are (now) being shown to the rest of the team,” she said.

Fogel said that a team does not simply replace such talented players like Hamilton and Miller. He just wants his players to become the best versions of themselves.

“I don’t really have any expectations for the (players) that are here now to try to be like Courtney or Jazmine,” he said. “I want them to reach their fullest potential individually.”

When Hamilton and Miller joined the program as freshmen, they were not expected to contribute immediately, Fogel said. There were already established upperclassmen ahead of them when the pair arrived on campus.

Two of those older players got injured, opening the door for both Hamilton and Miller to play as freshmen. Fast forward four years later and now they are gone, leaving quite a mark on the program and record books.

“The biggest thing we’re going to miss is their leadership and competitive drive,” Fogel said. “Those two things are going to be hard to fill.”

Nick Reddy can be reached at [email protected] or @NickIsReddy on Twitter.

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