Women's basketball guard Lindsay Nickel '13 said her team is ready to put practice into action when it tips off this weekend.
"It's been a long pre-season," she said. "Two weeks longer than last year, and we are excited to start playing."
The team returns this year with all five of its starters, including guard Sheila Dixon '13, 2010-11's highest-scorer and rebounder on the squad, averaging 11 points per game. Last season, the team came away with a 10-18 overall record, going 6-8 in league play. With no players lost to graduation, Aileen Daniels '12 said she looks forward to playing on a team where everyone is already on the same page.
"Everyone is back, and we are a lot more comfortable playing with each other," she said. "We are a lot more confident. We have a lot more poise and are a better-oiled machine."
With a great dynamic already in place, the pressure is on for the four newcomers on the team. It has been a shaky start — two first-years are currently recovering from illnesses that put them out for a majority of the pre-season. But Head Coach Jean Marie Burr said she has no doubt the rookies will add to the team's level of play.
"They were highly recruited," she said. "They are tough competitors, and we really need people who love the game, and they look very promising."
The opening weekend is a big one for the Bears. Bruno goes up today against the University of New Hampshire, whom they beat on the Wildcats' home court last year. The team will then take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology Sunday afternoon. The Bears have bitter memories from last year's game against NJIT.
"There is some serious revenge after last year," Nickel said. "We lost to them in a last-second play in a game that we were up."
"This is the kind of challenge that we want in the non-Ivy season," Burr said. "You always want to play tough opponents in the non-Ivy play, so we know what we need to work on."
But Daniels said the Bears have made plenty of improvements and are prepared for the season opener.
"We have been doing a lot of post improvement," Daniels said. "Other teams know we have excellent shooters, but we have been working on evening it out, getting better looks inside."
Burr said the team wants to use the non-Ivy season as a way to get themselves ready for league play.
"We will look at each game as an opportunity," Burr said. "An opportunity to build on some of the things that we will need to strengthen and polish up."
The action starts this evening at the Pizzitola Center against UNH at 7:30 p.m.