GOLDEN EAGLE: Small, yet talented freshman class

The Marquette women’s basketball team was the second-youngest team in the NCAA last year with six freshmen and no seniors. Things look different in 2012 for coach Terri Mitchell’s team, with just two freshmen in Brooklyn Pumroy and Ashley Santos.

Both incoming freshmen saw limited action in their senior years of high school due to knee injuries, but they still have Mitchell excited about their contributions to the team.

“I’m impressed by their passion for the game of basketball and their passion to make a difference on this program,” Mitchell said.

The Golden Eagles changed their offensive style for the upcoming season by having each player take on a general guard or post position. A player like Pumroy helps ease the pressure on other guards like junior Gabi Minix.

Pumroy led the Fairborn (Ohio) High School team to a 21-3 record her junior year of high school, adding on a district finals appearance. Prior to injuring her knee, she was one of the more agile players in the Greater Western Ohio Conference.

Being from Ohio, her favorite player growing up was Wright State center Israel Sheinfeld. He wore No. 10 and played three seasons at the university in Pumroy’s neighborhood before leaving to sign a contract with a professional Israeli team. She looks up to him and will be wearing the same number on her jersey in 2012-13.

Unlike Pumroy, Santos has not practiced yet as she finishes up her rehabilitation. She arrived at Marquette as a top 50 recruit and was ranked 89th on ESPN’s overall prospect list.

Her vertical has been highlighted as a strength, but when she had to undergo knee surgery, she believes her skill level took a hit. She is now working her way back.

“Before my injury, I was more of an explosive player and more into my vertical,” Santos said. “That’s the type of thing where losing my legs hurts, and I want to get back right away. That’s my main focus.”

Santos does physical therapy every day with the team’s strength and conditioning coach and works closely with assistant coach Tyler Summitt on skill drills.

Summitt is in his first year at Marquette after playing basketball at Tennessee and spending one year as a student assistant coach under his mother, legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Working with Pat Summitt, he was able to see hundreds of the top recruits in the country. He sees a lot of talent similarities in different conferences.

“When I was with my mom I was in the SEC, and Marquette is at the exact same level in the Big East,” Summit said. “It’s great to see players that can do things and be explosive. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Since Santos was young, basketball was always popular within the family. Her mother played Division I basketball at Wichita State and her father played in a professional league and made the Puerto Rico national team.

Santos has represented Puerto Rico twice in her career on the U18 and U19 national teams.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” Santos said. “I was able to travel and do a lot of international tournaments that not a lot of players get a chance to do.”

Six players knew what it was like to be a freshman just a year ago, which leads to a positive team chemistry and an easy transition for the new freshmen to mesh with their teammates.

“They’ve been very welcoming,” Pumroy said. “It’s a great group of girls and they’re awesome to be around. I feel very at home here.”

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