The Central Lakes College women's basketball team made an appearance in the MCCC state tournament last season for the first time in four years.
It was another step forward for a program that has struggled at times in recent years. But evidence would suggest that third-year head coach Brad Amundson has the program on the rise.
CLC won four games in the 2004-05 season, six games in Amundson's first season and eight last season.
This season, the Raiders return just one member of the 2006-07 team in Whitney Glazier of Annandale, who averaged 6.8 points last season.
Joining Glazier will be eight newcomers.
2006-2007 record: 5-7 division, 8-19 overall
Head coach: Brad Amundson, third
season, 14-36 (.280)
Assistant coach: Nate Hanson
Opener: Anoka-Ramsey at CLC 1 p.m. Saturday
10: Anoka-Ramsey, 1 p.m.
14: NDSCS, 7 p.m.
15: Madison, Wis.,
Tech, 6 p.m.
17: at Riverland, 2 p.m.
23: Milwaukee, Wis., Tech, 6 p.m.
24: at Anoka-Ramsey,
29: at NDSCS, 7 p.m.
1: at MSCTC-Fergus Falls, 1 p.m.
7: Riverland, 6 p.m.
8: Rochester, 1 p.m.
14: CLC Classic,
2 and 6 p.m.
15: CLC Classic,
noon and 4 p.m.
3: CLC Invite,
2 and 6 p.m.
4: CLC Invite, noon and 4 p.m.
9: Northland, 6 p.m.
12: at Vermilion, 1 p.m.
18: Rainy River, 6 p.m.
19: Hibbing, 1 p.m.
23: Itasca, 6 p.m.
26: at Mesabi Range,
2: at Hibbing, 1 p.m.
5: at Itasca, 6 p.m.
7: Mesabi Range, 6 p.m.
9: Vermilion, 1 p.m.
13: at Northland, 6 p.m.
16: at Rainy River, 1 p.m.
Amundson believes his young team has the potential to improve on the accomplishments of the 2006-07 team.
"The freshmen we have, we feel, are very strong. I think the chemistry has been real good," he said. "Our strength coming in is we have a lot of girls that can handle the ball and shoot the ball. And, they appear to get along off the court. So all the pieces are there for us to have a nice season."
The Raiders will have an opportunity to gauge their progress after six weeks of practice on Saturday when they face off against the defending national champions in Anoka-Ramsey.
When discussing his team's potential, Amundson pointed to the Anoka-Ramsey program and what the Rams were able to accomplish in a short period of time.
"Two years ago they had no program because they couldn't get enough recruits," he said. "And, then last year they had only freshmen and they were the national champs. In junior college, you can get by with only freshmen and Anoka-Ramsey proved that."
Freshman guard Stacey Butler of Brainerd said the team has adopted an "anything is possible" mindset heading into the season.
"We expect a lot. Our goals are to get to state, to get to nationals. We think we can take home championships," she said. "We're all new so it's going to be interesting at the start here. But we've improved so much already in six weeks."
Freshman guard Jayme Reed of Browerville, who transferred from Winona State after a year in which she did not play basketball, added that the Raiders' strength will be defense and quickness and the fact that teams will have no idea what to expect from CLC.
"I think we have an advantage over a lot of other teams that have returning players because we know how they play and nobody knows how we play yet," she said. "I think our defense is definitely our biggest strength right now. We're going to be fast. We're going to push the ball hard, run the floor well. That's what we're looking for."
Amundson said he is looking forward to seeing what the team he's seen in practice can do this season, beginning with its tough opener Saturday.
"They (Anoka-Ramsey) will be just as good if not better. The whole league appears to be stronger," he said. "We think that is a wonderful way to start with a big challenge right away."
Whitney Glazier, G, 5-7, Annandale.
Brandi Cresap, G, 5-7, Perham
Cayla Collison, G, 5-7, Verndale
Stacey Butler, G, 5-7, Brainerd
Brittany Miller, G, 5-7, Staples
Jayme Reed, G, 5-7, Browerville
Megan Hejhal, F, 5-8, Verndale
Erika Saima, F, 5-6, Staples
Becky Skiba, C, 5-10, Onamia.
TY RUSHMEYER, sports writer, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5865.
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