New-look SVC set for 2018 campaign
The Mountaineers bring in nine new players to a squad that finished 4-21 in 2017-18.
With the major turnover in the roster, Gowan had to go back to the fundamentals to build skills and chemistry within the group, but feels the team has caught on quickly.
"We're really young this year and have nine new bodies, so it's basically like we're starting from scratch," Gowan said. "We're basically re-teaching everything. We started with fundamentals, basic defensive positioning, offensive schemes, our transition game and our secondary offense. There's so much, where we feel like we're starting brand new. It's almost like having a brand new team, which is really exciting, but it's also been a lot of work."
The work ethic to improve has been really evident early on for the Mountaineers.
"The girls have worked really hard these first few weeks just getting after it and competing every day because it is like a blank slate," Gowan said. "They know playing time is open and nobody has set roles and we don't have set starters. Everyone is grinding it out and I'm really excited."
For returning players, SVC has three that are currently practicing with senior Maddy Main, junior Sarah Poirier and sophomore Brenna Hudson. The other returners on their roster are juniors Dani Biggers and Taylor Mallett, who both saw significant court time last season and also play soccer in the fall. Senior Kayla Emmi is also on the roster.
When it comes to returners, their leadership role will be incredibly important, especially with so many new faces.
Main, in particular, will be expected to carry a leadership role for the group. She averaged a double-double with 16 points per game and 11.8 rebounds last year.
Her quiet confidence and leadership has helped the group.
"It's been really good to have Maddy because she's such a good leader silently. She just does what she's supposed to do all the time and works so hard," Gowan said. "She would come from cross-country practice, running five miles, walk into the gym, change into her practice clothes and still be winning all of the sprints. Her work ethic is just tremendous, so to have that and the girls seeing that has been great.
New to the team this year are juniors Kyra Bruesewitz, Di Smith, sophomore Aliesha Thomas and freshmen Ahmyria Simmons, Katie Godon, Julia Ryan, Liv Pressley, Brittany Fulton and Julisa Vega.
The mix of returners and newcomers has been an exciting component to the preseason.
"It's exciting for the returners to see the new group because we can really get after it in practice," Gowan said. "Last year, we didn't play 5-on-5 because we didn't have 10 healthy people. It's been fun to scrimmage every day and compete."
Bruesewitz is from Reno, Nev. and transferred in from a junior college in San Diego. Gowan describes her a great shooter and someone with a high basketball IQ.
Thomas transferred in from College of Saint Joseph's in Rutland and is from Brooklyn, N.Y.
"She's scrappy. She sets the tone differently, being a point guard with that swagger from the city," Gowan said.
Gowan expects major things from both transfers.
Pressley, a 5-foot-4 guard, has impressed as a freshman as well. Pressley went to Cobleskill-Richmondville High School in New York.
"I think she was under recruited. She's kind of like a diamond in the rough," Gowan said. "She is super athletic and works tremendously hard. I expect her contribution to be great over the next four years."
Coming off a tough season last year, the only way to go is up for the Mountaineers. Gowan believes this group will be a much more competitive bunch and put SVC right into playoff contention.
"I think we're going to have a lot of really close, really fun games," Gowan said. "I expect us to compete. I don't think there will be blowouts this season. Our schedule is pretty manageable. I'm expecting double-digit wins and hopefully, for us to be in the playoffs."
The Mountaineers start their season tonight on the road against SUNY Cobleskill. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at email@example.com and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.