(Posted November 29, 2000)

The Juniata College women's basketball team got a taste of the post-season flavor last year, and liked it a lot. The Eagles return 10 players with court experience from a squad that went 16-9 overall and qualified for the conference playoffs for the first time since the 1992-93 season. The blue and gold unit, which improved from eighth in the Commonwealth to fourth from 1998-99 to 1999-00, has its sites set on winning the Commonwealth Conference regular season and returning to the conference playoffs under third-year head coach Amy Buxbaum. Juniata gets its chance to show what it has this winter for the first time on Saturday and Sunday at the Emmanuel College Tournament. The Eagles will open with Catholic on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The championship contest is at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, while the third-place outing will start at 2:00 p.m.

"We have an extremely coachable group that can shoot the ball very well as a team," said Buxbaum. "Every one of our players who return from last year, have come back in great shape and are ready to play. I would be hard-pressed to predict a starting lineup for the whole season. We will be going from week to week with the starting lineup depending on who we play. It is nice knowing that any one of 10 players could start throughout the season."

The junior trio of guards Kelly Grove and Kelli Young and forward Brandy Preslovich will be the ones to help set the tone in the early going. Last winter, Preslovich led Juniata in scoring average (12.6 ppg) and was second on the club in rebounding average (7.2 rpg). The 1998-99 Commonwealth Rookie of the Year will be looking to increase both of those averages as she is the top front court player back in the fold. Young is back for her third year as the starting point guard. A season ago, she led Juniata in assists (143) and she also posted 54 steals, while tallying 7.4 points a showing. Grove started five games as a sophomore and is ready to become one of the top scoring threats for the Eagles. She registered 7.2 points a contest in 1999-00 and nailed 87 percent of her tosses from the foul line.

Those three along with junior forward Carrie Serman and sophomore center Kelly Steinbeiser will complete the starting lineup for the weekend for the Juniata coaching staff. Serman played 96 minutes a season ago, but has proven scoring ability. She posted a career-best 15 points against Penn State-Altoona as a freshman and has grabbed four rebounds in an outing three times in her tenure. Steinbeiser, who is 6-0, played in eight games as a rookie, but blocked six shots for the year. She has been grabbing plenty of defensive rebounds in camp and has shooting range all the way out to the three-point line.

"No matter what lineup we have on the floor, we are going to be looking to force the tempo," said Buxbaum. "We will be at our best with our pressure defense and an up-tempo style of offense with fast breaks and layups. Although, we have a number of players who can shoot from the perimeter in our half-court sets."

Other talented returning performers come in the shape of sophomore guard Casey Shoup, who worked as a backup point guard as a rookie and drilled 23 three-pointers in the process. Junior forward Kim Kelly has waited patiently for her time as a starter. She has the potential to be a team leader on the boards and can score from 15 feet and in. Sophomore Jen LaCount is solid and versatile reserve at either guard positions. Sophomore forwards Melissa Flint and Amanda Hayes complete the mix of veteran talent.

A total of five freshmen will push the upperclassmen for court time this winter.

"I am cautiously optimistic about this year's team," Buxbaum said. "If we keep opponents off balance and pressure them, while knocking down open shots at the offensive end, the wins and losses will take care of themselves."


Nov. 18- vs Catholic& 2:00 17 at Susquehanna* 6:00

19 vs Thomas or Emmanuel& 2/4:00 20 at Elizabethtown* 1:00

21 Carnegie Mellon 7:00 24 Albright* 8:00

28 at Albright* 7:00 27 at Moravian* 2:00

Dec. 2 Moravian* 4:00 30 Lebanon Valley* 6:00

6 at Lebanon Valley* 7:00 Feb. 2- at Gettysburg Tournament 6/8:00

8 Dickinson 7:00 3 (Eastern, Lebanon Valley) 1/3:00

12 at Grove City 7:00 6 at Messiah* 7:00

Jan. 3 at Lycoming 7:00 10 at Widener* 1:00

6 at Penn State-Behrend 2:00 12 Penn State-Altoona 7:00

9 Messiah* 7:00 14 Susquehanna* 8:00

13 Widener* 1:00 17 Elizabethtown* 2:00

&Emmanuel College Tournament

*Commonwealth Conference game

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.