By Charlie Filippazzo
The women’s basketball team opened its season with a thrilling 78-71 win in an exhibition game against West Chester on Sunday.
Ending last season with a 4-26 record, the ladies plan on coming back this year with a vengeance, even though they were picked to finish in last place in the pre-season polls.
“This team is very different from last year’s team,” said head coach Lynn Milligan. “Our roster is different this year with four newcomers and Alyssa returning.”
The Broncs open their 2010-2011 regular season schedule today at 5 p.m., as the team looks to start off on the right foot against Bucknell.
Sophomore Alyssa Parsons missed the entire season last year because of an ACL injury. Parsons scored 15 points in the exhibition, including eight points to help win in overtime.
This year’s team has a lot to offer to make Rider a leading competitor.
“We have great size this year with Caitlin Bopp and Sarah Homan leading the way,” Milligan said. “We have good leadership and our perimeter play is much improved.”
The Broncs are also very young, with no seniors on the roster. According to Milligan, the team is still struggling to find its identity and level of consistency.
“The team so far is looking very solid,” Milligan said. “The ladies are committed to be the best they can be.”
Last season, the Broncs’ averaged only 52 points per game. Rider will be looking to improve that statistic this year along with upgrading its defense, which allowed about 65 points per game last year.
However, its win against West Chester shows the women can put up well more than just 52 points a game.
“We are working hard and becoming a better basketball team each and every day. Our desire to improve is evident,” Milligan said.
Rider will have one of its biggest home games in recent history on Saturday, Dec. 11, when it welcomes the 13th ranked team in the country, Georgetown. Sophomore forward Carleigh Brown and the rest of the team will go in with the mindset to win.
“Playing any game, it’s up to both teams to show up and play their best,” said Brown. “With the team we have this year, if we come out strong and play hard, anything is possible.Just like every other game, our plan is to win no matter what.”
The Hoyas are a product of the Big East, one of the elite conferences in the nation. Georgetown was a five seed in the last season’s NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round before falling to Baylor.
Despite a difficult season last year that was riddled with detrimental injuries and tough losses, the Broncs return this season with a new sense of inspiration and tenacity to be more successful.
After Rider’s matchup with Bucknell, the Broncs travel to University Park to take on Penn State at 2 p.m.