Building around the solid nucleus of four returning sophomores, the defending Region II champion Northeastern A&M Lady Norse start the season with a 12-player roster.
“We're calling ourselves the dirty dozen', Lady Norse head coach Jim Rowland said. “We started preseason with 12 and we've got two that are nursing injuries, so we don't have a lot of room for error.
Last season the Lady Norse finished second in the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference with a 6-2 record and the won the Region II title with a 71-66 victory over Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.
The Lady Norse suffered a 58-47 loss to Copiah-Lincoln, Miss. to finish eighth in the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament at Salina, Kan., to finish 25-8 on the year.
“Going into the season our strength as a team will be the play of our guards, Rowland said. “Right now the majority of our scoring will come from the guards.
“We're so young in the post position, that they are still developing, Rowland said. “They haven't quite grasp how to move and be a little bit stronger going to the basket. We want them to develop one move and stay with that one move.
“It's probably going to take the first half of the season for our eight freshmen to understand the speed of the game at this level, Rowland said. “We're so young, that once they get that understanding we should be ready to start divisional play in late January.
Anchoring the point-guard position for the Lady Norse is sophomore Autumn Thompson (5-7 of Glenpool). Last season Thompson averaged 5.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 30 games. She added 81 assists and 32 steals.
“Autumn has really, really gotten to know how to play the game, Rowland said. “She's improved all of her skills and I have the utmost confidence in her ability to run the team. She's going to make things happen at the point.
Providing depth at the point is freshman Tasha Hedgecourt (5-5 of Webb City, Mo.).
“Tasha is still learning the speed of the game and what passes she can and cannot make at this level, Rowland said.
Returning at the 2-guard spot is veteran Misty Haley (5-5 of Oktaha). As a freshman, Haley averaged 6.1 points and 1.8 rebounds in 30 games. Haley contributed 21 assists and 29 steals.
“Misty will provide a lot of points for us, Rowland said. “She has the ability to score either on dribble-penetration or on the pull up. She's still learning that her best game is the mid-range shot.
Expected to see playing time either in the 2 or 3 spot is freshman Kali Bassett (5-8 of Grove).