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Coast Guard Academy will look to mix its blend of returning starters with some talented newcomers under first-year head coach Alex Ivansheck, a Norwich Free Academy graduate.
The Bears, who have gone 1-17 in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference in each of the last two seasons, started the season 4-0 last year before winning just one of the their final 20 games to finish 5-19 overall.
The Bears lost a pair of players to season-ending injuries during the preseason as sophomore guard Brittney Zimmerman, who averaged 10.1 points and led the team with 71 assists last season, and freshman Nicole Strickland are out for the year.
Junior guard Kaitlin Ward, who led the team with 11.4 points and was second with 5.3 rebounds per game last season, is one of three starters back.
Sophomore guard Alexi Howland (6.9 ppg./3.5 rpg.) is back and, with the injury to Zimmerman, will play point guard.
Sophomore Jamie Waterman, will be the Bears go-to post player. She averaged 6.5 points and led the team with 5.8 rebounds per game.
Junior forward Larla Brown, who missed the first half of the season with an injury, averaged 6.5 points and 3.6 rebounds over the final 14 games and will be counted on to have a solid season.
Sophomore swing player Dani Knox (6.3 ppg/3.8 rpg.), who made eight starts last season, will also see plenty of minutes, along with classmate forward Victoria Gurtler (5.0 ppg./5.0 rpg.).
"With the injuries that we have already suffered before that start of the season, the freshmen have to contribute; we can't wait for them to adjust to the college game," Ivansheck said. "This team has been extremely positive, energetic and very coachable since the first day of practice."
Coast Guard will open the season at home against Mitchell today.
Coast Guard returns plenty of veterans, including four starters, while adding in six freshmen as the Bears look to improve upon a record of 8-14 overall and 2-10 in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, missing the conference tournament for the first time.
Senior co-captains Jimmy Knudsen and Greg Marshall, as well as Ed Gailor, have had a good preseason and will provide leadership and will be counted on to lead the team all year.
Marshall, a NEWMAC second team all-conference selection last season, was the top 3-point shooter in the conference, shooting 45.2 percent from behind the arc (38-for-84), and led the Bears with 15.7 points per game.
Knudsen, a forward, started all 22 games last season and averaged eight points and led the team with 5.7 rebounds per game last season. Gailor (2.7 ppg.) is expected to see his minutes increase this season at the guard spot.
Junior guard Devonte Weems (7.2 ppg./3.2 apg.) and forward John Benedict (5.0 ppg./3.9 rpg.) will be leaned on to carry more of the load this season.