“It’s always good to start a new season 0-0,” Slippery Rock head women’s basketball coach Bobby McGraw said prior to his team’s season opener. “No one has won a game yet so everything’s possible. Conference title’s possible, national tournament is possible, national championship’s possible.”
Following a year in which the team finished with a 13-15 record and missed the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) playoffs McGrawis looking for improvement’s from this year’s team.
“The defense will be better this year,” McGraw said. “Three of our key newcomers can really guard.”
McGraw builds his teams with defense in mind and focuses more on stoping the opposing team from scoring than anything else. Last year, the team went 0-13 and gave up 70 or more points to their opponents.
“We won’t give up 70 points a game this year,” McGraw said. “I don’t know if that will equate to any wins, but we will not give up 70 points a game this year.”
The Rock will need to replace four of their five starters from a year ago, using a mix of returners, transfers and freshmen. Projected in the starting five are senior guard Lexi Carpenter, freshman guard Brooke Hinderliter, junior guard/forward Mallory Heinle, junior transfer forward C.C. Dixon and sophomore forward Morgan Henderson.
Carpenter was named to the All-PSAC preseason team after scoring 17.5 points per game for The Rock last year and McGraw does not think the roster turnover from last year will matter much to his team.
“Morgan Henderson played starter minutes last year, Mallory Heinle played starter minutes last year, Dixon started on the national championship team at (California University Pa.),” McGraw said. “They’re ready to go right now. We brought in a good class this year and Mallory and Lexi have done a great job of bringing them together at this point in time.”
Expected to get significant minutes of the bench for the Green and White are junior guard Krista Pietropola, senior transfer Cassidy Wright, junior guard Sierra Fordham and freshman forward LeeAnn Gibson.
Also on the team are juniors Kayla Payne and Dawnsha Heath and freshmen Alexis Deyarmin, Samone Rainey, Haylee Heyward, Carly Lutz and Alyssia Heath.
Slippery Rock was picked to finish fifth in the PSAC-West in the coaches preseason poll, the same spot they were picked to finish last year.
McGraw thinks that the combination of talent and chemistry on this team can lead them to big things in 2016-17.
“Our expectations this year are, hands down, if we don’t make the conference tournament and make a run at a PSAC title this year, we won’t have reached our expectations,” McGraw said. “We have all this firepower that has either played at the division one level or had division one offers. We expect to win the conference this year.”