The following article appeared in the Middletown Times Herald-Record on Oct. 12 and was written by Ken McMillan.
WEST POINT, N.Y. — A new 40-day preseason practice rule has given Army women's basketball coach Dave Magarity a welcomed early start.
The Black Knights held their first team workout early last week and squeezed in five practices before giving the players off for Columbus Day weekend.
"It just makes things a little more manageable and not as condensed and really intense,'' Magarity said.
With 14 freshmen and sophomores and nine juniors and seniors, Magarity said he was able to give more attention to the younger players, giving them a fair evaluation before he decides which athletes are headed to a new junior varsity team.
The influx of talent has created a better practice environment, Magarity said, with reserves challenging starters, making players better, in turn.
Magarity said he is very pleased with the progress of his top seniors: all-stars Erin Anthony and Nalini Hawkins, plus Laura Baranek and Jessie Coiffard. Junior forward Kait Goodall has impressed during early workouts and could be a big asset on the front line.
Three of the seven freshmen appear headed for the varsity. Prep school product Jessica Waggoner is a 6-foot-1 power forward who is a bit slow of foot, but is a much-needed physical presence in the low post. Swing player Jen Hazlett was a two-time first-team All-Utah player who averaged 18 points a game. Jackie Alexander averaged 16 points and eight rebounds as an all-Kentucky player. Magarity said both Hazlett and Alexander, though, have found the transition to college ball a bit challenging.
Two points of preseason emphasis have been team defense and shooting.
"The most important thing was to get back to playing better defense,'' Magarity said. "That was a major flaw in our team last year. That, to me, is the biggest challenge going into this year.''
So far, Magarity is happy with what he's seen.
"I think we're in good shape," he said. "I feel good. The numbers have been a little of a challenge for us, but in a good way.''
Army's first game is Nov. 12 at Wagner.