MANCHESTER, N.H. – There's a new sheriff in town for the Saint Anselm College women's basketball team and that means a fresh start for a squad that produced a disappointing record and did not play to its talent level in 2012-13. With head coach Julie Plant arriving on the Hilltop for her first season, however, the Hawks will take on her attacking mentality at both ends of the floor and get back to contending in the highly-competitive Northeast-10 Conference.
Lack of experience will not be a factor for the Hawks' new bench boss as her roster will be filled out by 13 players that have previously donned a Saint Anselm uniform and just two newcomers that should provide an immediate impact with eight seniors to look up to, including senior captains Briana Jones (White Plains, N.Y.) and Allie Jones (So. Kingstown, R.I.).
Swing player, Bri Jones, was one of the most consistent and efficient Hawks last season as she led the club in scoring (10.3 ppg) and shooting (.447), while also pulling down 4.8 rebounds and handing out 2.0 assists per contest. Center Allie Jones provides big size in middle and led the team in rebounding (6.2 rpg) and blocks (1.1 bpg), while ranking second in scoring (8.7 ppg) a year ago. Combined with their experience and leadership, both Joneses will be a large piece of the puzzle this season.
Senior Tori Lehr (Cohasset, Mass.) will take on a large role for the Hawks and hopes to bounce back from a season in which she was never really allowed to get going. Hampered by injury, Lehr posted 5.1 ppg and 4.6 rpg following a sophomore season in which she began to emerge down the stretch and finished third on the team in scoring (7.2 ppg).
Mariah Wynn (Boston, Mass.) is another senior that will add experience to the frontcourt. Wynn, who can play both inside and around the perimeter, chipped in a point per game last season.
Sophomore walk-ons Kelsey McKeon (Alameda, Calif.) and Kayla Papazian (Plymouth, Mass.) round out the frontcourt and provide much-needed depth off the bench. McKeon averaged 2.0 ppg and 1.6 rpg in 13 contests last season, while Papazian added 1.2 ppg and 0.9 rpg, while knocking down 5 of 9 (.556) shots from the field.
The backcourt will be led by senior point guard Meg Morrissey (So. Kingstown, R.I.), who averaged 2.7 ppg, 1.3 apg and 1.1 spg in shortened minutes last season. Morrissey, who is a key cog in the Hawks' vaunted defense that only allowed 59.3 ppg a year ago, will be counted on for increased offensive production this season.
Senior Ashley Viselli (Groveland, Mass.) was like a Swiss Army knife for the Hawks last year, playing three different positions while averaging 4.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg and 1.5 spg. Viselli, who will slide back to her normal 2-guard position, can bury the trifecta and will stretch the floor on offense as she finished third on the team in 3-pointers made a year ago.
Senior Kierra Moore (Albany, N.Y.), who served as a tri-captain last season, will provide more leadership on the floor for the Hawks. Forced into action at the point at times last season, Moore finished with averages of 3.2 ppg, 1.2 apg and 1.2 spg. She will move back off the ball and should fight for a role in Plant's rotation.
Sophomore Raquel Johnson (Long Beach, Calif.) should also earn a spot in the rotation after seeing increased minutes down the stretch last season. Johnson averaged 3.1 ppg and was solid on defense with 1.2 spg.
Classmate Nancy Stablein (Shelton, Conn.) will provide depth in the backcourt for the Hawks. Coming off knee surgery prior to her freshman season and then dealing with setbacks during the year, Stablein played in just nine games.
Sophomore point guard Alexius Hampton (Charlotte, N.C.) is coming back from offseason knee surgery and should return after the winter break. Prior to her injury, Hampton averaged 3.5 points, 1.1 assists and 1.0 spg in 14 contests.
Senior Jenna Lemoi (Lincoln, R.I.) returns to the team after not playing last season. Lemoi, who will provide more depth, averaged 2.0 ppg in four contests her sophomore year.
The Hawks add two newcomers to the backcourt in freshmen Candace Andrews (Boston, Mass.) and Aliyah Smith (Medford, N.Y.). Andrews is a 5-foot-5-inch point guard, who will see the majority of her time at the 2-guard spot and should make an immediate impact on the lineup. Andrews guided Worcester Academy to a 19-3 record last year as she averaged 15.0 ppg, 5.0 apg and 4.0 spg. She made the 2010 ESPN Hoopgurlz Top 100 Watchlist and was ranked 41st among Class of 2012 point guards that year. In 2011, she was 72nd among '12 point guards before reclassifying to 2013. The 5-3 Smith played last season at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School and recorded 11.0 ppg 6.0 apg.
In addition to Plant, the completely re-made coaching staff also features assistant coaches Amanda Shannon and Irvin Harris, as well as sport psychologist Marla Zucker. Shannon spent last season as an assistant at Stonehill College, where she helped guide the Skyhawks to a 24-5 record and their 21st NCAA Tournament berth. Harris, meanwhile, brings 18 years of coaching experience to the Hilltop, including his most recent stop at NHTI.
The Hawks tip-off their season Friday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. when they play host to Georgian Court in non-conference action at Stoutenburgh Gynasium. Stay up-to-date with the latest news, including game previews and recaps, directly from the Saint Anselm College athletic department by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter @STAHawks.