Women’s basketball looks to improve upon last year

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In the 2012-13 season, the Mercer women’s basketball team is looking to prove their doubters wrong. Head coach Susie Gardner enters her third season at the helm for the Bears, and she assures it’s going to be a great year for the team.
“We’ve been practicing for a long time. Women’s basketball allows us to start the season rather early. We started on Oct. 4 and we were able to have a great fall break where we could have two-a-days, so we’ve gotten a lot of things accomplished,” said Gardner. “Our program’s growing, we’re still building. We’re not there yet but we are taking steps in the right direction.”
For the first time under Susie Gardner’s direction, the Bears will have a veteran squad hitting the court. Consisting of three seniors, four juniors, five sophomores and one freshman, the Mercer women’s basketball team is going to be looking for veteran leadership on and off the court.
“We only have two new players on the team, so I have a majority of people who can run a drill rather than our coaches running a drill. So you can feel the flow of practice going a lot better,” mentioned Gardner.
Unfortunately for the Bears, their leading point earner from last year is not available during this season. Junior guard Briana Williams is out for the 2012-13 season, with a tear in her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Last year, the star guard averaged 17.5 points per game. Her presence will be missed on the court.
“With Briana getting hurt, we had a game plan in place as a coaching staff and that had to be tweaked overnight, but I think we’re heading in the right direction,” Gardner said.
With Williams out, the Bears are going to have to look for other sources to make baskets for the team. One of those sources is senior forward Ry’van Buchanan. Last season, Buchanan averaged 10.8 points per game as well as 5.3 rebounds per game. Her efforts last season were enough to get her named to the Atlantic Sun’s Preseason All-Conference Team.
Another player the Bears are looking forward to having back is redshirt junior, Kendra Grant. Grant has had to sit out due to several knee injuries, but she is back this year and ready to perform at the best of her ability.
“It was very difficult. Going from being able to play out there to just sitting out on the sidelines was difficult. But I’m ready now to get back out there and pick up where I left off,” Grant said.
Last season, the women’s basketball team was within 10 points of the opposing squad in several games. Unfortunately, they were unable to close out the majority of those games.
“You can try to simulate time and score situations in practice,” Gardner said. “Hopefully with the experience of going through those games in the past we can come out on the correct end of those this year.”
The women’s basketball team hits the court for the first time this season on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. at Hawkins Arena for an exhibition match versus Francis Marion.