LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Oct. 1) – The New Mexico State women’s basketball team begins practice for the 2013-14 season on Friday, Oct. 4, at 12:30 p.m. The Aggies return to the hardwood with a young squad of eight newcomers and four returners.
“It is going to be an important time for instruction and getting the kids to understand how hard you have to play at the Division I level,” head coach Mark Trakh said. “We are excited, we are just really young and we are just going to be a different team Jan. 1 than we are Nov. 1. Hopefully by January some key players back on the court, so right now we just have to be patient and teach. We might take some lumps early, but I think we will be better for it in the long run.”
The Aggies return two starters from last year and look for replace senior starters Stefanie Gilbreath and Kelsie Rozendaal. Sophomores Abby Scott and Sasha Weber stand as the top returners for the Aggies. Weber returns after starting 24 games, averaging 8.5 points per game, posting 59 assists to go along with the top field goal percentage among the returners. Scott started nine games for the Aggies and averaged 4.7 points per contest.
“We are looking for a lot of really good things from those two sophomores (Weber and Scott),” Trakh said. “I think they are going to be really good by the time they are juniors and seniors. They both have to step up this year and we are going to get a lot of scoring from those two I think.”
Other Aggies returning for the 2013-14 season include junior Simone Ruedin and redshirt sophomore Elena Holguin.
Trakh and the Aggies welcome eight newcomers for the new season, including junior transfer September Offutt. The 6-2 forward from Pomona, Calif., spent the 2011-12 season at Central Arizona College where she averaged 7.6 rebounds a game and shot 48 percent from the field.
Freshman post player Audra Jones was recruited by Trakh upon arriving at NM State as a volleyball player early in the fall. Jones averaged 14.1 points a game and 11.6 rebounds and helped Hamilton High School (Orland, Calif.) to two section titles and a 30-1 record as a junior.
“We are going to have to play a lot of youngsters. We could be starting five kids that are freshman and sophomores, so this next month is going to be really important, just as far as teaching them our offensive and defensive systems,” Trakh said.
Other freshman joining NM State this season is Vanessa Garner (Milpitas, Calif.), Tamera William (Las Vegas, Nev.), Brandee Walton (Surprise, Ariz.), Brianna Freeman (Killeen, Texas) and Moriah Mack (San Antonio, Texas).
The five were part of Trakh’s early signing class in the fall of 2012, while Tyler Ellis signed with the Aggies in the spring of 2013. Ellis, a 6-2 forward averaged 18.8 points per contest at Antelope High School with 17.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game.
The 2012-13 Aggies posted a 15-16 record (7-11 WAC) with three WAC Player of the Week honorees. Gilbreath was named Newcomer of the Year and second team all-conference.
The team begins practice on Oct. 4, and tips off the 2013-14 season with an exhibition game versus Western New Mexico, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. The regular season begins with a short road trip to El Paso to face cross-border rival UTEP, Nov. 12.