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SUNY Potsdam women’s basketball looks to turn fortunes for 2013-14

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POTSDAM - It’s a new season and SUNY Potsdam women’s basketball coach Tara Ruckh wants to instill that into her players’ mind sets.

“Everybody is 0-0,” said coach Ruckh, who enters her ninth season at the helm of Bears’ basketball. “The opportunities are endless. Everybody was disappointed with how last season went, but I think this team has the chemistry and it has the trust in one another. If it means that somebody has to speak up, we’re at that point where they’re not afraid to speak up.”

Ruckh understands the challenges that lie ahead coming off the heels of a 1-24 season and the adjustments that need to be made. She believes that if the team can get a couple of early wins, it could have a snowball effect.

“It’ll be important to]get on a roll,” said coach Ruckh. “If we can gain confidence, I think we can start doing the things we need to do in order to be successful. That is executing offensively and playing solid defense and then we should be in a good place.”

Ruckh pointed to the Bears’ potential to get up and down the floor as a reason to be optimistic. Switching back to a motion style offense with quick hit plays, Potsdam will look to push tempo.

There will be more shots to go around with the departure of graduated senior Katy Briedis (Canton, N.Y.), who led the Bears in scoring with 13.1 per game and took 330 field goals attempts.

On defense, Potsdam will need to improve upon stopping the opposition’s penetration to the hoop while taking advantage of a transitional game.

“We need to score more and take advantage of transition,” coach Ruckh said. “We’ll be looking to improve our inside game and have better offensive possessions. We need to make defenses work and be able to identify when to go fast and when to slow down and run offense.”

GUARDS

Senior Hannah Kmiecinski (Webster, N.Y. ) is projected to pick up some of the scoring load and will likely receive the nod to run point guard. Coach Ruckh notes that her ball handling has come a long way, she’s a good passer and knows what everybody is supposed to be doing. Showcasing good leadership, Kmiecinski is the leading returning player in assists with 62.

Senior Chenice Russell (Moira, N.Y.) is described as a good defender who can score. Adept at rebounding as a guard (3.5 per game in 24.1 minutes per contest), Chenice gets up and down the floor well. She’s a quiet player, but leads by example. She is the team’s leading returner player in steals with 32.

Junior Colleen McNamara (Guelph, Ontario) has shown improvement as a better overall defender. A good on the ball defender, Colleen plays physical and has a good motor. Coach Ruckh says she can “run 100 miles per hour, and can provide a spark.”

Junior Carli Reynolds (Indian Lake, N.Y.) is a really good on the ball defender (19 steals), who can also shoot from 3-point range (15 3-pointers in 12 minutes per game) Described as a good offensive rebounder, she could see a spike in minutes played.

Freshman Meghan Driscoll (Troy, N.Y.) is expected to also bring the ball up. Meghan hails from a winning program in high school that won the state championship.

Sophomore Laura Coleman (Manhattan, N.Y.) can create her own shot and get to the rim.

FORWARDS

Senior Jessica Kouzan is now the leading scorer carryovered from last season, having averaged 9.2 points per game. Kouzan can shoot from beyond the arc (32 3-pointers), is a competent rebounder (4.4 per game) and was the team’s best shot blocker (20 blocks). Kouzan (Webster, N.Y.) also made 38 of 51 (74.5%) from the free throw line. Described as a vocal leader, she “will say things at the right time” according to coach Ruckh.

Junior Bailey Weigel (Williamsville, N.Y.) is expected to have a bigger role this year. Missing nearly half of last season with an illness, the 5-foot-9 guard/forward can get to the rim (9.1 points per game, 78% free throw shooter) and provide sufficient rebounding totals (averaged 6.3 a game). Weigel is also keen on disrupting the flow of the opponents’ offense as she picked up 18 steals and 11 blocks in just 13 games.

Junior Veronica Sapp (Potsdam, N.Y.) is back healthy with the team after being injured the last two seasons. Veronica is a physically strong player, who will contend for more playing time. Sophomore Katie LaVoie (Malone, N.Y. / Franklin Academy), will also be looking to contend for more minutes this season. With her ability to shoot the ball, she will be an asset inside and out. Sophomore Daronda Addison (Albany, N.Y.) plays inside and is a valuable post player. Daronda brings a good work ethic and a positive attitude. Freshman Patti Dorgler (Floral Park, N.Y.) is described as a hard worker with high basketball IQ.

Potsdam will open the season at Utica College on Saturday at 2 p.m. The home opener will be next Tuesday against SUNY Canton at 6 p.m. in Welsh Gymnasium.

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