Getting to the bottom line, the 2011-12 season was a basic up and down year for the Skidmore College women's basketball team. The Thoroughbreds wound up 15-8 overall, but turned in an 8-8 Liberty League effort.
"It certainly wasn't the season we set our sights to in the beginning," coach Darren Bennett said. "We had some season-ending injuries that hurt us quite a bit, but we battled all the way through and were in it until the very last game of the season and that's what you want to do. You want to put yourself in a position to be in it when it counts at the end.”
Based on the recent success enjoyed by the Thoroughbreds, Bennett thinks the motivation is in place to prevent a repeat of last year.
"They definitely don't want to do that again," he said. "Especially our seniors, who were part of a 21-5 team just a couple years ago - that's still fresh in their memory. They know when you're losing a game at the free throw line or by one in a buzzer beater or an overtime game exactly what we can do.
"You've got to take things by the reins and make things happen. Last year I don't think we made things happen at key moments. That's why we ended up on the opposite side of four losses by nine total points."
But putting that season in the rearview mirror, and pretty much like any basketball team approaching a new season, Skidmore has had to deal with graduation losses.
In the case of the Thoroughbreds, that means finding replacements for the team's top three scorers, Jessie Kavana, Megan Gaugler and Christina Gargiso. Also gone is Hailee Minor, the first player off the bench.
"We're going to miss all four of those players," Bennett said. "They were a big part of our team and were great leaders.
"But every year is a new year. That's the great thing about college basketball, players graduate and you get new players. Folks mature and become better basketball players."
Leading the list of returning players for the Thoroughbreds is Logan Frederick. The 5-11 senior post averaged 5.2 points and 5.3 rebounds last year.
"We're ready to go," Frederick said. "Last year was a tough year. We had a bunch of really close games that we ended up losing, so this year we're looking to just finish. Our program is building and our program is good. We're looking to make it to the tournament and make a name for ourselves.”
Other players expected to make key contributions are junior Jordyn Wartts (5-8, guard) and sophomores Angela Botiba (6-0, forward) and Molly McLaughlin (5-4, guard). Wartts averaged seven points last year and Botiba chipped in 6.8 points an outing.
"Logan as a senior post player is a key part of the program," Bennett said. "Angela was a member of the all-rookie team and we expect some big things out of her in the middle. Molly, who was our backup point guard last year is recovering from an ACL injury and is doing well, so we expect her to come in strong."
"Everybody else has to prove themselves. Right now it's a learning phase - a growing phase with everybody cheering for each other and really just making things move forward."
As to who the starting five will be when the Thoroughbreds open their season Nov. 16-17 hosting the Skidmore Invitational, it's a list yet to be determined.
"It's not that we're not announcing who our starters are, we just don't know," Bennett said. "When that time comes, folks will have learned at the same rate and have the same opportunity. The players that will be able to rise against competitive play will be the ones who we'll call our starters."
Basketball Senior and co-captain Molly Gile
When getting around to talking about the Liberty League schedule, Bennett was hard pressed to find one or two usual suspects to put at the top of the list.
"I think the Liberty League is going to be a real battle," he said. "St. Lawrence lost quite a bit, but they always come back with great players. Union is really tough, William Smith always plays tough and Vassar has some good recruits coming in.
"The last four years on the women's side it's come down to the last Saturday of play. You just try to take care of your business, protect your home court and compete."
As for any sort of specific season goals, Bennett had the obvious answer.
"We want to improve over the course of the year, but we want to get to the Liberty League tournament," he said. "We don't want to talk about we need to win this game or that game. Pursue and play championships - that's our main goal."
ON THE WIRE