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SMC Basketball: Reinvigorated team is ready for final preseason scrimmage

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 11, 2005

Saint Mary’s will take on Lake Michigan College tonight in its second scrimmage of the preseason and final tuneup before the regular season begins at the Hanover Tip-Off Classic next weekend.

A week after facing Bethel College at the Angela Athletic Center, the Belles are hoping to get on the right track with a road victory before their official games start.

Saint Mary’s outscored Bethel in the last of the scrimmage’s three periods and hopes to use the momentum from the end of that meeting to help in tonight’s matchup.

“Our focus is to see how much we’ve improved from Bethel,” first-year Saint Mary’s head coach Steve Bender said. “They exposed a lot of our weaknesses.”

The Belles worked on conditioning and execution all week, and Bender said they are essentially a whole new team, complete with new players.

This week the Belles will be playing with a full squad, as three players missing from last week’s scrimmage will return to the team. Forward Benya Broderick will return tonight after recovering from an injury, Erin Newsom has joined the team after the completion of the cross-country season and Shelly Bender will also be playing after finishing out the volleyball season.

Bender described this week’s practice as “outstanding” and said the team is ready to get out on the court and play.

“We’ve some a long way”, he said. “Finally, everyone is here, which helps. … [Now] we can gel as a unit instead of playing as just a bunch of parts.”

Highlighting the new feel to the team, Bender said that “a lot of players” will stand out for the Belles this season.

“We have a lot of depth, which is key,” he said. “But we also have great leadership from our two captains.”

Bender credits captains Bridget Boyce and Bridget Lipke with keeping the team focused during the transition to a new coach.

“They really held the team together,” he said.

He also said the strengths of the team are his players’ athletic ability and the number of quality players that are on the roster.

“Our athleticism and the depth that we have will help us extend pressure on teams throughout the game,” he said.

Bender said the Belles were exhausted by the end of the Bethel scrimmage, but that with this week’s conditioning and the addition of three new girls to the squad, he thinks they will be able to keep up the intensity all game.

Tip-off tonight is at 7 p.m.