Coast Guard will look to mix its blend of returning starters with some talented newcomers in the 2012-'13 season under first year head coach Alex Ivansheck.
The Bears who have gone 1-17 in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in each of the last two seasons, started the season 4-0 last year, before winning just one of the their final 20 games to finish 5-19 overall.
The Bears lost a pair of players to season ending injuries during the preseason as sophomore guard Brittney Zimmerman, who averaged 10.1 points and led the team with 71 assists last season, and freshman Nicole Strickland are out for the year.
Junior guard Kaitlin Ward, who started 19 games and led the team with 11.4 points and was second with 5.3 rebounds per game last season, is one of three starters back this season.
Sophomore guard Alexi Howland (6.9 ppg./3.5 rpg./2.6 apg.), who started 21 games last season, is back and with the injury to Zimmerman will play point guard this season.
Sophomore Jamie Waterman, who made 19 starts last season, will be the Bears go to post player. She averaged 6.5 points and led the team with 5.8 rebounds per game last season.
Junior forward Larla Brown, who missed the first half of the season last year with an injury, averaged 6.5 points and 3.6 rebounds over the final 14 games and will be counted on to have a solid season for the Bears.
Sophomore swing player Dani Knox (6.3 ppg/3.8 rpg.), who made eight starts last season, will see plenty of minutes for the Bears along with classmate forward Victoria Gurtler (5.0 ppg./5.0 rpg.).
"I am definitely excited with the core group of returning players that bring a lot of experience and they have all made the transition for the freshmen into college basketball very comfortable from day one," said Ivansheck.
Senior Karli Collins, who did not play last season after averaging seven points and leading the team with 7.5 rebounds per game in the 2010-'11 season will see minutes in the front court. Sophomore Leigha Steinbeck will be a backup guard.
A trio of freshmen will be counted on this season. Andrea Barrameda will serve as the backup point guard while guards Meghan Fornaro and Victoria Sutherland are expected to make immediate contributions.
Fornaro was the 2011-12 Central Mass. Scoring Champion as she averaged 22.5 points per game and made 60 three-pointers. The 5-8 guard scored 1,000 points in her high school career at Sheperd Hill.
Sutherland was the 2011-12 District 24-5A Co-Offensive Player of the Year, a first team All-district selection as well as a third team All-region pick at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas.
"With the injuries that we have already suffered before that start of the season, the freshman have to contribute, we can't wait for them to adjust to the college game," said Ivansheck. "This team has been extremely positive, energetic and very coachable since the first day of practice. Everything is new to them from basic drills to our offensive and defensive philosophy and they are very eager to learn."
Coast Guard will open the season at home against Mitchell on Nov. 15th before playing three straight road games before opening its NEWMAC schedule against Wheaton at home on Nov. 28th.
"Our goal is to improve every day," added Ivansheck. "We need to focus on defensive positioning, boxing out and valuing every possession and they will be the key to our success this season."