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2013-14 Women's Hoops Outlook: Team Overview
As the Liberty women's basketball team prepares for Friday's season opener at Charlotte, LibertyFlames.com will provide a four-part preview of the 2013-14 season.
The two-time defending Big South champion Liberty women's basketball team will not only be sporting new uniforms in 2013-14, but will also feature six new players wearing those white and blue jerseys. The Lady Flames' lofty goals and expectations remain the same, however, as the new-look team will aim for its 16th Big South title in 18 years.
Last season, Liberty went 27-7 on its way to a conference title and NCAA Tournament appearance. Five seniors graduated from that team, including starters Devon Brown, Brittany Campbell and Tolu Omotola. Brown and Omotola were both first team All-Big South performers, while Campbell has since joined the Lady Flames' staff as an assistant coach.
In their absence, a youthful group of players will be asked to step up and continue Liberty's tradition of success. The 2013-14 roster features a dozen freshmen and sophomores and only one senior, Jasmine Gardner.
Carey Green, entering his 15th season as the Lady Flames' head coach, possesses an optimistic outlook about the upcoming year. "This season is a season of opportunities. Our expectations are for our talents and enthusiasm to overcome our lack of experience early in the season. Our key to success will be how well we can focus on our objectives and goals while gaining experience in practice and competition. We realize that talent is never enough. Experience is invaluable to a team."
The Lady Flames are not completely devoid of experienced players, as Gardner and junior point guards Emily Frazier and Reagan Miller have combined for 131 appearances in the starting lineup during their careers. Meanwhile, redshirt sophomore post player Ashley Rininger was second in the voting for 2013 Big South Freshman of the Year and started Liberty's NCAA Tournament tilt against Purdue.
"We have excellent team chemistry and skill sets that should impact an exciting season," Green continued. "However, it will be crucial for us to develop depth."
Liberty boasts a sizeable 16-player roster this season, lending Green many possibilities for such depth. He will be able to evaluate the players right out of the gate, as the Nov. 8 season opener at Charlotte tips off a daunting four-week stretch which also includes matchups with James Madison, Virginia, Saint Joseph's, Fresno State and Richmond.
"I absolutely love the desire to achieve and maturity that our experienced returning players have exhibited throughout the offseason," Green stated. "I'm sure that will translate to be a major positive impact on the team. As complex as this can be, that will be a key to our team's success."
Rebounding has been another vital component of the Lady Flames' success over the years. Liberty pulled down 16.9 more boards per game than its opponents in 2012-13, leading the nation in rebound margin for the second year in a row. Green's team has now ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in rebound margin for 11 straight seasons.