Golden Eagle senior point guard Brittani Wiese missed the final seven games of last season due to a knee injury.
Golden Eagle Women’s Basketball is back with a chip on its shoulder after finishing last season 9-17 overall and 6-16 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
"We all feel we have something to prove," Minnesota, Crookston Head Coach Mike Roysland explained. "We started strong last year then lost some games we had a chance to win even when Brittani Wiese was out."
Golden Eagle senior point guard Brittani Wiese missed the final seven games of last season due to a knee injury. UMC lost six of those seven games without Wiese on the floor.
"We were a different club and we had nobody to replace that," Coach Roysland said. "We were very competitive with people but didn't have enough. There is something to try to prove. The returners have something to prove. We've added other pieces to our depth and some kids that can play. Hopefully we can put the pieces together and be successful when it counts. The belief factor is there; we just have to execute."
The key pieces added to the Golden Eagles this season, who are expected to have an impact include: Erika McRoberts, Alexa Thielman, Katrina Moenkedick, Christine Thorn and redshirt freshman Jaya Perkins.
In her 19 games last season, Wiese averaged a team-high 15.2 points per game, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals.
She is joined by two other returning starters from last season in senior center Laurie Tyson and sophomore guard Ebony Livingston.
Sophomore guard Ashley Martell also comes back with the team's highest three-point percentage last season at 42.4 percent (39-92) and the top free-throw percentage at 85 percent (17-20)
Senior forward Carli Bunning and sophomores Cienna Walker and Kenzie Church also return to be key factors this season.
"I think we've got great leadership," Coach Roysland said of his three seniors.
Losing Megan Eul, who averaged 13.7 points per game, and Carly Rothstein, who averaged 6.1 points per game, from last year's squad will be a challenge to replace.
"Scoring will probably be done by committee," said Roysland, who will be in his seventh season with the Golden Eagles. "We have a lot of kids that can score. It will not be one specific person, but a combination of a lot of people being around that eight to ten points. Brittani has the potential to score, but more things will be done by committee this year."
Roysland said he's already seen good things from freshmen in the two exhibition games against South Dakota State North Dakota State.
"Christine Thorn has hit a couple big shots," he said. "The freshmen have had their ups and downs too. We'll look for returners to be the mainstays and look for newcomers to add to the puzzle. I'm excited with what we see. Jaya Perkins played very well in the two exhibitions and we're looking for big things from her.
"Depth is our strength right now," continued Roysland. "We're able to rest people. It's one thing to have a lot of depth but you still have to play well."
Roysland said the quality depth will allow his squad to play aggressive defense for a complete game.
"We'll play a really up tempo," he said. "That will allow us to apply defensive pressure for 40 minutes because of our numbers, speed and length. Our defense will really set up the offensive."
The Golden Eagles were one of the worst rebounding teams in the NSIC last season. Coach Roysland has made it a focus to improve on that this season.
"That is a real major focus area," he said. "We did a good enough job against NDSU to keep us in the game. We need to do a better job of that this year."
The season begins today on the road against Valley City State at 7 p.m. UMC will then travel to face Mayville State Thursday before a Thanksgiving tournament in Grand Canyon, Ariz. The home opener is Dec. 14 against Minot State.