University of Maine at Farmington women start season at USM Tip-Off Classic
FARMINGTON, Maine -- The University of Maine at Farmington women's basketball team is scheduled to kick off its 2010-2011 campaign this weekend at the University of Southern Maine Tip-Off Classic at Warren Hill Gymnasium in Gorham.
The Beavers will face host USM Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Salve Regina Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Beavers return 11 players, including four starters, from a team that finished 12-13 overall and 9-5 in the North Atlantic Conference. Farmington reached the NAC semifinals for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
"We have a lot of interchangeable parts. It's going to be finding the right mix on any given day," said head coach Jamie Beaudoin, who is entering his 12th season directing the Beavers. "We will have a balanced attack,In comparison to years past, we'll have more balance from top to bottom on the roster. Various players every night will have to step up in order for us to succeed."
Standout Caitlyn Laflin (Farmingdale, Maine) was the lone graduate from last year's squad. Laflin led the Farmington in nearly every statistical category, including points (17.7) and rebounds (9.3) per game.
"It will be difficult for us to replace Caitlyn," said Beaudoin. "Not only losing her, but our opponents don't have to spend their time focused on her, which would lead to open shots for her teammates. For us to score points, we, as a team, are going to have to find ways to create scoring opportunities."
Seniors guard Ashley Busque (Belgrade, Maine), guard Katherine Gagne (Dixfield, Maine) and forward Jillian Ross (Belfast, Maine) are tri-captains for this season's team. Busque (9.2 ppg, 51 assists, team-high 34 3-pointers made) and Ross (8.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg) were starters last season, while Gagne brings solid defense and court awareness to the floor.
Junior Emma Morrison (Saco, Maine) returns to the point for Farmington. Morrison (3.7 ppg, 49 assists ) looks to provide increased offensive production, while classmates guard Alyssa Neptune (Readfield, Maine) supplies a spark off the bench and Paige Saunders (Surry, Maine) fills in the frontcourt.
Sophomore forward Kenni Norton (Strong, Maine) is backing in a starting role after averaging 5.7 points and 3.8 boards per game to go along with 37 steals. Norton along with guards Rachel Clement (Gray, Maine) and Lindsay Gordon (Winslow, Maine) should increase their contributions from their first years. Sophomore forwards Kelsey Graffam (Falmouth, Maine) and Hannah Whitaker (Turner, Maine) will also see time for the Beavers.
First-year players for the Beavers include forwards Amber Allen (Windham, Maine), Emily Higgins (Saco, Maine) and Holly Oliver (Belgrade Lakes, Maine) and guards Mallory Bonnevie (Jay, Maine), Hannah Roy (Bath, Maine) and Bianca Stoutamyer (Madison, Maine).
Farmington is scheduled to host its home opener on Dec. 4 against Rivier College. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Earlier this month, Farmington was pegged for fourth in the NAC Preseason Coaches Poll. Defending champ Husson University paced the poll with 61 points followed by Castleton State College (54 points), Maine Maritime Academy (53) and the Beavers (36). Farmington's non-conference docket, includes five teams that advanced to postseason play last season.
"It will be a competitive conference season," said Beaudoin. "I think that if we can finish in the 3-4-5 range it would be a good season for us. Husson, MMA and Castleton are the top three and Lyndon, Thomas and Green Mountain return all-conference players."