BUCKHANNON -- A season ago, the West Virginia Wesleyan women's basketball team may have been the bounceback team of the West Virginia Conference.
The Bobcats started the year 0-9, but sparked by a four-overtime win over Fairmont State, they went on to finish the season near .500 and in fourth place in the WVC.
With four starters and their top five scorers of a year ago returning, it's unlikely that Bobcats will have to bounce back from much this season.
"I think everybody here would be very disappointed if we don't finish the year as one of the top three teams in the league," WVWC coach Nikki Hall-Atkinson said. "There would of course be a lot of luck involved, especially in this conference, but we have the talent to achieve all of our goals for this season."
First-team WVC player Jessie Roeth leads the returning players after another solid season at Wesleyan. The 5-foot-9 junior guard from Troy, Ohio, followed up an impressive freshman campaign by leading Wesleyan in scoring and rebounding last season with 14.6 points and 7.2 boards per game.
While Roeth and and Katie Davis (11.5 ppg.) provide the scoring punch for the Bobcats, it is likely that senior guard Andrea Gianni will again provide the team's heart. After undergoing five major surgeries in four years, Gianni was healthy for much of last season and averaged 8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds while starting 21 games last season.
"Andrea is truly a team leader in every sense of the word," Hall-Atkinson said. "She has the respect of all the girls, not only on the court but on the bench and off the court as well. She's going to be essential to our success this year. He presence on the bench, talking to the girls, getting them prepared, is just tremendous.
"The girls have no excuses to complain because they never seen Andrea do it. If any one had a right to complain it would be Andrea, and she's never done it."
Kristen Wells is the fourth returning starter for WVWC after averaging 8.5 points and 5.9 rebounds last year.
Filling out the starting five will likely be sophomore Frances Carvajal, who started four games as a freshman last year. Carvajal, a 6-1 center from Covington, Va., averaged 7.6 points and 5.4 rebounds en route to a spot on the WVC all-freshman team last season.
Assistant Sports Editor Chris Vannoy can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org