BETHANY - The 2013-14 version of the Bethany College women's basketball team will look to rebound from a seven-victory season, including five in Presidents' Athletic Conference play. The team will look to replace a few key players and adds some newcomers for depth.
Possibly the biggest key for the Bison is the return of Taylor Verrico after earning honorable mention All-PAC. Verrico ranked seventh in the conference in points per game (13.8), which was the highest total by a Bethany player in seven seasons.
''Taylor was a game changer for us last year,'' Coach Rebecca Upton said. ''She always found a way to be productive on every level, whether that was scoring, distributing for others, or playing solid defense.
''We are glad to have her back this season and we expect her leadership both on and off the floor to be an important part of the team.'
Along with Verrico, Upton will see the return of two other athletes that played big minutes in senior Skylar Williams and sophomore Mikyla Tipton.
Williams appeared in all 26 games as the primary point guard, averaging 3.5 points and 4.0 rebounds while also leading the team in both assists (80) and steals (52).
''Skylar will be handling the primary point guard responsibilities for the third year in a row and she is handling the tempo of the game extremely well,'' Upton said. ''Her defensive prowess as well as her ability to run an offense is a great asset for us, but we will look to try to get her more involved in the scoring aspect of the offense this year.''
Tipton appeared in every game as a freshman, primarily as a reserve player and ranked third on the team in points per game and averaged 7.7 points per contests while shooting 47 percent against conference opponents.
Other players that will see some time are junior R.E.L Neal, sophomore Kristen Black and freshmen Alexis Naples and Lauren Simpson.
''For us this season, consistency in our backcourt is going to be one of the biggest keys,'' Upton said. ''Last season we were never sure of what we would get out of our guards as it would be different from game to game, and sometimes even from half to half. What we want this year is to be more consistent in our execution both on the offensive side as well as defensively.''
The Bison will look to junior Monica Westerheide and sophomore Sami Schott to lead a young group of forwards.
Westerheide is perhaps the most experienced of the group as she appeared in 22 games and averaged 4.3 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
''Monica can make some great plays for us on the offensive side of the ball,'' Upton said. ''She has great agility for a post player and has the ability to extend the floor and make some solid plays for us this year.''
Schott appeared in 19 games, played the three and four position and averaged 3.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest.
''Sami is an extremely smart player out there on the floor,'' Upton said. ''She is constantly thinking ahead of the play and she is very crafty on offense. She will make a great swing post for us this year.''
Freshman Shelva Burns is expected to log some big minutes. A four-year player for Weir and an OVAC All-Star, Burns is someone that coach Upton is hoping will make a big impact.
Other forwards that could see the floor this season are sophomores Carolena Gasbarro, Christina Schamp and Gabrielle Naples, as well as freshmen Carly Grady and Stacy Potter.
Nov. 26: Mount Union6 p.m.
Dec. 4: at Waynesburg5:30 p.m.
Dec. 7: Grove City2 p.m.
Dec. 10: at Hiram6 p.m.
Dec. 14: at Geneva5:30 p.m.
Dec. 29: Ohio Wesleyan Tourney6 p.m.
Dec. 30: Ohio Wesleyan TourneyTBD
Jan. 2: Franciscan7 p.m.
Jan. 4: at Thiel1 p.m.
Jan. 8: Westminster6 p.m.
Jan. 11: Saint Vincent2 p.m.
Jan. 15: Chatham7 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Wash. & Jeff.2 p.m.
Jan. 22: at Thomas More5:30 p.m.
Jan. 25: Waynesburg2 p.m.
Jan. 29: Geneva6 p.m.
Feb. 1: at Grove City1 p.m.
Feb. 5: at Westminster6 p.m.
Feb. 8: Thiel2 p.m.
Feb. 12: at Chatham7 p.m.
Feb. 15: at Saint Vincent4 p.m.
Feb. 19: Thomas More6 p.m.
Feb. 22: Wash. & Jeff.2 p.m.