Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett will return a team that features three seniors, guards Jenna Bartsokas and Miaca Bowman and wing Valerie Bronson. A trio of juniors, guard Anna Bowers, wing Leah McAlister and post player Brittany Duerk, also bring experience.
A quartet of sophomores, post players Chelsea McMeans and Kaitie Fritts, and wings Hannah Phillips and Morgan Faulkner, return after seeing a large amount of playing time as freshmen.
Newcomers to the team are guard Haley Nelson, post-wing O’Neisha Smith and post player Jess Reece.
Bennett is expecting Bartsokas to finish with her strong season ever as a Lady Bisons. Bennett isn’t sure if Bartsokas will play the point or the No. 2 spot. Nelson has shown a knack for being able to find players open everywhere on the court due to her excellent vision. Nelson could get playing time at the point. Bowers and Bowman also will be on the court as well.
“We will see how the other girls develop and compete,” Bennett said. “I think that Jenna played a lot of last season at an All-Conference level. With our record not being that good she didn’t get the recognition. In the last five games she played at a very, very high level averaging 17 to 18 points during that stretch.
“She is by far the hardest worker we’ve got. She is very self-motivated. She really spends a lot of time working out, shooting and playing pick-up games. She deserves to do well because of that hard work.”
Duerk, a 6-footer, spent most of her time at the post last season, but Bennett plans to move her to the No. 4 spot.
“By necessity, due to injuries, we had to play her more at the No. 5 spot,” Bennett said. “She did a nice job, but she was undersized. She was going against players who were taller and heavier each night. Going back to the No. 4 position she will have better match-ups.”
Several Lady Bisons spent the spring scrimmaging against players from Tennessee State. Most of the summer the Lady Bisons have been playing games against the Vanderbilt Lady Commodores. Most of the players have been able to work out in June and July.
Bowers spent some time on mission trip in Haiti this summer, her second year to go there. McAlister made a mission trip to Guyana.
More players have spent all or part of the summer in classes than ever before.
Said Bennett, “It is a way for them to take labs and lighten their loads during the season.”
,i>Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.