Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 00:11
Cassie Nuckols | The Mirror file photo
Junior guard D’shara Strange breaks to the hoop during a game against Montana State last season. Strange was named College Sports Madness’ preseason player of the year.
The UNC women’s basketball team has a lot to be excited about going into its exhibition game against Regis (Colo.) at 7 p.m. tonight.
The University of Northern Colorado enters the 2012-13 season as the preseason No. 2 pick by Big Sky coaches and media after falling to Idaho State 49-46 in the conference championship game last season. Idaho State, last season’s conference champion, was picked to finish first again this season by coaches and media.
The Bears would like nothing more than to return to the conference tournament this season and bring home the championship, especially with 11 returning players, including College Sports Madness’s preseason player of the year, junior guard D’shara Strange, who was the team’s leading scorer (13.4 points per game) and rebounder (8.8) last season.
Strange also led the team in assists and steals.
Other key players returning for the Bears are senior forward Lauren Oosdyke (12.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds last season) and junior forward Kim Lockridge (6.5 points, 4.1 rebounds).
Head coach Jaime White said the exhibition will give her a look at how efficient the team will be on both sides of the floor.
“This game gives us a good chance to run our offense and see what our new players look like,” White said. “We play a really good team in Regis — they always give us a challenge. We just look to get it started and work out the kinks.”
Senior guard Victoria Timm said she is eager for the season to begin.
“Since it’s my last year, I want to make it back to the NCAA Tournament and win a championship,” she said. “We were so close last time, I’m just looking forward to getting back there. This year we feel a lot closer, since most of the team returned. We’re a different team, but we’re also the same team. We’re just a big family.”
Kicking off the season against a Division II opponent is something the team is not planning on overlooking, Timm said.
“Division II schools are tough — they always play with a lot of heart and they’re always scruffy,” Timm said. “You always want to start out looking impressive in front of your home crowd.”
This is the Bears’ one and only exhibition game before the season starts and it begins at 7 p.m. tonight at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. UNC’s regular season starts Nov. 9 with a home game against Air Force.