Oct. 26, 2012
Seventh-year head coach Dave Magarity opened the season's first practice with a quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving." For Army women's basketball, the direction they are moving towards is a successful season in 2012-13.
The Black Knights finished 14-16 a season ago, including an 8-6 mark in Patriot League contests. Despite the somewhat lackluster record, Army grew in leaps and bounds during a season that many predicted would find the Black Knights in the bottom half of the conference.
With 18.9 points per game, Anna Simmers averaged the highest scoring output against league foes since 2003-04, when Lehigh's Jessica DePalo totaled 21.3 per game. Simmers garnered All-Patriot League first-team honors, and combined with second-team member Jen Hazlett to form the conference's highest-scoring duo since 2002-03. Hazlett chipped in 13.1 points per league game to rank sixth in the conference.
Hazlett was one of Army's most balanced players during her sophomore campaign, averaging a team-best 7.5 rebounds per contest and racking up six double-doubles to lead the squad. In addition, her 30-point scoring performance against Colgate was the most by a Black Knight since 2005.
Both Simmers and Hazlett return to the fold in 2012-13, as does 2012 All-Rookie Team member Olivia Schretzman. Schretzman started 29 of 30 games during her freshman season, totaling 213 points for the most by an Army plebe since 2005-06, when Alex McGuire notched 340 over 31 games. The trio of All-Patriot League performers was the most for Army since 2007-08.
In addition to returning four of five starters, 70 percent of scoring and two-thirds of rebounding from 2011-12, Magarity and his hard-working staff welcomed an accomplished group of newcomers this summer. The eight-player freshman class, hailing from seven different states which span coast to coast, solidified Army's shooting corps while adding depth to the perimeter.
Included in that group are the nation's leading shot blocker in Aimee Oertner, their respective high school's all-time leading scorers (Oertner, Kelsey Minato), the New Jersey Prep Player of the Year (Bridget Ryan) and numerous all-state and all-conference performers.
Magarity will turn to senior co-captains Liz Benedict and Kimberlyn Martin to lead the predominantly young Black Knights. Army's roster features just one junior (Hazlett) and four seniors to go along with 13 underclassmen.
"The level of talent we have returning, along with what we have brought in, makes for a great practice environment," said Magarity. "There's a tremendous amount of competition. We'll see who will rise when the dust settles."
The Black Knights opened their official practice season on Oct. 1 - 40 days prior to their first contest. Army's first game is on Nov. 9 at Wagner, marking the fifth consecutive year the Black Knights and Seahawks will kick off the season. Army will look to end the home team's advantage in the all-time series, as the visitor has wound up on the losing end in every meeting. The Black Knights enjoyed a comfortable 24-point victory in the 2011 season opener against Wagner.
Of Army's 15-game non-conference schedule, seven contests will be played on the Black Knights' newly redesigned home court at Christl Arena. The road schedule is highlighted by a Thanksgiving Week trip to the Mountain West, where Army will face first-time opponent Weber State on Nov. 21, before renewing the academy rivalry at Air Force on Nov. 23. The "Silver Star" is up for grabs for the 15th time overall and first time since 2009, when the Black Knights won, 60-42, at West Point.
The 14-game Patriot League schedule commences on Jan. 12, when Army hosts Bucknell. After a road game at Lafayette (Jan. 16), the Black Knights will host Navy for the first of two meetings in 2013. The second showdown, scheduled for Feb. 16 in Annapolis, Md., will decide the "Star".
Army will spend much of February on the road, with just two home games on the docket - Feb. 13 against Lafayette, and Feb. 23 against 2012 regular-season champion American. The Black Knights were 10-6 on their home court a year ago, including a 5-2 mark against Patriot League foes.
With an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship on the line, the 2013 Patriot League Tournament will begin March 7 with the quarterfinal round, followed by the semifinals on the 11th. The title game, which will be aired live on CBS Sports Network, is set for March 16 at 6 p.m. The highest seed in every matchup will serve as the host.