There are a number of state tournaments in progress or set to begin. The Lady Bisons have four signees for next season but if they can find the right player they will be able to add a fifth.
Coach Frank Bennett, whose team lost to ETSU 83-75 in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament, has given his players some time off. They will not start workouts again until March 21 when they return from spring break. That’s a plus since seven of the returning players are having injuries evaluated for everything from rehab to surgery.
“We will get back on our weight program,” Bennett said. “They can practice two hours a week on things like shooting. We can spend two hours a week with them working on individual stuff.”
The Lady Bisons coaching staff has finished individual meetings with players. Those meetings included a review of the past season and a look ahead for the program. Bennett was encouraged that many of the returning players were ready to get back on the court as soon as possible.
“We looked at areas we want to work on physically and mentally,” Bennett said. “I feel good about the returning players and the ones we have signed.
“I feel good about how well we played in most of the games late in the year. We have to meet runs by opponents quicker. We have to be more confident. We have to be able to refocus. We have to have more mental toughness.”
The Lady Bisons have lost seniors Jenna Bartsokas, Miaca Bowman and Valerie Bronson.
Bartsokas leaves the program with 1,411 career points, second only to Courtney Boynton on the school’s all-time scoring list for the NCAA era. Boynton finished with 1,438. Bartsokas was a second team All A-Sun selection.
Her 14.9 points per game average is a new season high for the Lady Bisons in the NCAA era.
Academically, Bartsokas was named to the CoSIDA (College Sports Information Directors of America) District IV All-Academic First Team for the second year in a row. She was also named to the CoSIDA All-Academic All-America Third Team.
“Jenna is way up there in a lot of statistical categories,” Bennett said. “She will be tough to replace.
“Miaca played a lot at the point and provided stability there. Valerie finished her season strong.”
Finding a new point guard for the 2011-12 season is a top priority. Rising sophomore Haley Nelson, rising junior Morgan Faulkner and incoming freshman, Jana Wright, from Miami, Fla., will be in the mix.
The Lady Bisons return two of the four team captains from 2010-2011 in center Brittany Duerk and forward Leah McAlister. Bartsokas and Bowman filled the other two captain spots.
“Leadership kind of emerges,” Bennett said. “You can’t really pick them.”
McAlister was one of the biggest losses for the Lady Bisons late in the season. She went down with an injury against Florida Gulf Coast Jan. 29 and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
“Leah was solid and smart,” Bennett said. “She was a tough rebounder. She was playing with a back injury, but when she was healthy she was providing a lot of double figure scoring games. She brought a lot of things to the table that hurt us a little bit when she couldn’t play.”
The Lady Bisons won nine games overall, the most since they won 10 during the 2007-2008 season.
The six conference wins this season were the most since the 2007-2008 season when the Lady Bisons won seven.
“It was a season of improvement,” Bennett said. “I thought we were a lot better than what our record showed. Our play overall was better.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.