BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae Lady Bobcats basketball team looks to have a special 2008-2009 season.
"This has the potential to become something very special," head coach Sebastian Wild said. "There is a lot of excitement surrounding our program going into the upcoming season. We can't wait to start working with the 2008-2009 edition of the Lady Bobcats."
Wild, who is entering his third season at the helm of the Lady Bobcats, and assistant coach Caren Fiorillo are coming off of a difficult 8-20 campaign in 2007-2008. This season the coaches are looking to turn the fortune of the program around with a "youth movement". "We had a great group of young ladies with a tremendous work ethic and an unbelievable attitude a year ago," Fiorillo said. "They did everything we asked them to do and were perfect ambassadors of our institution. We want to build on the great character of our returners. With the addition of a talented recruiting class we will improve our on-the-court production instantly."
The Lady Bobcats are looking for a breakout year on the court after adding nine new players to the roster. "We want to change the way we play completely this season," Wild said. "Our new identity should be characterized by relentless full-court pressure and an aggressive offensive mindset. The make-up of our roster should allow us to play at a very high speed on both ends of the court."
Four returning seniors including co-captains Kia Harrison and Kayla Blevins lead the team. They are joined by seniors Brittany Roberson, the leading shot blocker in the program's history, and Cortney Furr, last year's second leading scorer on the team. Junior Renee Roberson and sophomore Erin Thompson complete the returning group, which is expected to provide leadership on and off the court for this very young Lady Bobcat squad.
Nine very talented, promising newcomers will join the six veterans. They are led by junior transfer Lauren Casey from Lenior-Rhyne College and Janina Thurau, a freshman from Berlin, Germany. Both Janina and Lauren are versatile wing players that will be counted on to provide a significant scoring punch. They bring experience to the Bobcats as Lauren started more than half of the games she played in the SAC conference, and Janina made multiple appearances for the German Junior National Team at European Championships and other international competitions.
In the backcourt the Lady Bobcats add Nicole Jackson, Emari Ready, Amber Coleman, and Ashley Holland. "We are very excited about our new additions in the back court," Wild said. "All of them were stars on very successful high school teams. They are very athletic, tremendously skilled and bring a great work ethic to the team, but most importantly they are accustomed to winning and determined to make an immediate impact on the court."
Redshirt freshman Jennie Phelps looks to log the first minutes
of her college career after sitting out last season with a knee
injury. "Jennie has been part of our program and is more than ready
to finally make her presence felt on the hardwood," Wild said.
"The past year was very difficult for her, but now that she has
rehabilitated her injury, and she is finally in the situation to
see the rewards of her hard work." In addition freshman guard
Brittney Williams will redshirt this upcoming campaign, but help
the team prepare in practice.
With freshmen Jazzmin Tate and Kayla Newman the Lady Bobcats add two strong forwards. Jazzmin comes to Lees-McRae from Broome High School where she holds the all-time record for rebounds in a season, an area Wild needed to address desperately. Newman led Butler High School in Charlotte, N.C. to a 26-4 record in her senior year. She is a very athletic and long player with a great skill set who is expected to play multiple positions for the Lady Bobcats.
"We have high hopes for this incredible class," Wild said. "I hope we can gel quickly and get a feel for one another on the court. If we can continue to develop our new identity as quickly as we have in the first few weeks of workouts, we could potentially surprise some people this season. The sky is the limit for this team."
The excitement is evident, and one thing seems to be certain: the Lady Bobcats are looking to bring an exciting style of play to Williams Gymnasium, a style that is characterized by high intensity, positive emotion, and a true commitment to team work.
Pictured: Head coach Sebastian Wild