During the 2008-09 season the Spring Hill College women's basketball team started the year getting to know new head coach, Ray Fron. The 2009-10 season finds the tables have been turned with Fron now learning about his new team. The Lady Badgers lost six seniors to graduation last season and now feature a roster with five returning players and nine new faces.
"With this many new players, we're all still finding out about each other and learning the system," says Fron. "But we've already made big strides in our pre-season practices."
The first area of concentration for Fron will be replacing All-Conference center Keisha Forbes who effectively patrolled the boards for Spring Hill over the last three years. He will have two new options at center with 6'2" junior Kimarie Bock and 6'0" freshman Alexis McPhail. Bock, a transfer from the University of West Florida and a native of Dunedin, Fla., should provide immediate experience while McPhail, from West Frankfort, Ky., has improved her skills at every practice. Adding to the choices at center, 6'0" sophomore Alexis Davis of Irving, Texas, has also transferred to SHC from Benedictine College.
At the post positions, Fron is already pleased to see more height than last season. "We'll have size in the post this year which is a little different than the past," he says. Junior strong forward Erica Wright of Pace, Fla., is his lone returning starter from 2009-10 and the returning leading scorer. On the weak side, junior Lynleigh Hughes of Hammond, La., also returns. Freshman Caitlin Dorton of Versailles, Ky., will also see playing time in the forward rotation.
Fron viewed Spring Hill's passing skills as its Achilles Heel last season and, as a result, he feels guard play will be a crucial factor for the Badgers this year. Senior Janell Roy (left) of Houston, Texas, appears ready to step into the point guard role. Fellow senior Kristi Ybarra (right) from Gulf
Shores (Ala.) High School will move into the shooting guard spot while freshman Kristin Rogers of Ft. Walton Beach (Fla.) High School will also see immediate playing time.
Adding depth at the guard position will be senior Robynetta Hargrave from Metairie, La., and sophomore Kiara Parker from Ft. Walton Beach who comes to Spring Hill following a year at the University of West Alabama. Freshmen Kylie Casey of Navarre, Fla., Katie Martin of Montgomery, Ala., and walk-on Christina Watson from Brighton, Ala., will each be vital parts in the growth and transformation of Lady Badger Basketball in 2009-10.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Fron has deliberately put together a tough non-conference slate of games. "If you're going to be a top echelon team, you need to play games against good competition," he says. "That's how you gain exposure and jump start a program." Of the Lady Badgers' first 12 opponents, seven appear in the NAIA Preseason Top 25, two games are exhibition matches with NCAA Division 1 programs and one team (North Alabama) is NCAA Division 2.
Fron also likes the new attitude of his Badgers. "This is going to be a fun year," he says. "This is a fun group to be around and they've been working hard. They enjoy being in the gym and if they are feeling good about themselves that's a step in the right direction. They're an eclectic group to say the least."
Spring Hill opens the women's basketball season versus NAIA Preseason No. 22 Auburn-Montgomery (1-3) on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Arthur R. Outlaw Recreation Center.