Gone are the days of firing up 3-pointers from all areas of the court for the Charleston Southern women's basketball team. Well, sort of.
With the loss of two of the best 3-point shooters (Katie Tull and Kelsey Wasmer) in school history, Buccaneers coach Julie Goodenough says there may be a few less long-range bombs attempted this season.
But even more of a loss will be the leadership the two players provided. She will have her youngest team yet in her six years at the school with a roster that does not include a senior but does include six freshmen.
"It will be interesting but at the same time very exciting to see how we can bring this team together and get them to jell," says Goodenough, who led CSU to a 14-16 record overall and an 8-8 record in the Big South Conference last season. "We, the coaches, are having to teach a lot more and bring this group along a little slower while trying to get them ready to play.
"We'll continue to shoot 3-pointers because we have recruited players that can do that, but the difference this season will be an increased presence inside that will allow us to be more balanced offensively than we have been in the past."
Anchoring that inside presence is junior forward Lakeitha Alston, who is the team's lone returning double-figure scorer at 11.6 points per game. Goodenough expects a big year from the Myrtle Beach native.
"She has continued to mature each year and her work ethic is outstanding," said the coach, saying she has the potential to be an all-conference type player.
Alston, who is a 6-footer, heads up a group of post players that include four other players at least 6 feet tall. Redshirt junior forward Rachelle Coward, a transfer from UNC Charlotte, is expected to make an immediate impact inside. Coward can also play away from the basket and should be a consistent scoring threat.
Sophomore Anicia Dotson saw some playing time last year and should be a contributor as well. Freshmen Whitney Collins (6-2), Abby Wharton (6-2) and Shambreka Jones (6-1) should provide depth inside.
The Bucs are well-stocked at the point guard position with the return of juniors Helen Terry, Kiki Rutledge and Shay Jones. Terry averaged 6.3 points per game last season, and all three players will be asked to lead defensively.
The two-guard position is the biggest area of concern, at least early on. Sophomores Kirklin Kirkpatrick and Erin Bratcher will be expected to step up as consistent scoring threats from the perimeter, though unlikely to match the 173 combined 3-pointers made by Tull and Wasmer last season.
Three freshman guards -- Shannon Sanders, Haley Pilcher and Charmaine Dinkins -- will be thrown into the fire early and often by Goodenough.
Goodenough says having a young team has its drawbacks, but the coach is more than eager to see how the season develops.
Charleston Southern Women's Preview
Last season: 14-16 overall, 8-8 Big South (tied 4th)
Coach: Julie Goodenough, 63-90 in 5 seasons at CSU, 304-265 overall
Players to watch: F Lakeitha Alston, 6-0, jr. (11.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg); G Helen Terry, 5-5, jr. (6.3 ppg, 3.2 apg); G Kiki Rutledge, 5-5, jr. (4.8 ppg, 2.3 apg).
Note: CSU must replace sharp-shooting guards Katie Tull and Kelsey Wasmer, who combined for 173 3s in 2010-11.
Nov.—11: Furman, 7 p.m.; 12: Southern Wesleyan, 7 p.m.; 14: at Western Carolina, 7 p.m.; 19: Voorhees, 6 p.m.; 22: Bluefield, 7 p.m.; 26: at S.C. State, 2 p.m.; 30: at College of Charleston, 7 p.m.
Dec.—4: at Clemson, 2 p.m.; 16: UNC Wilmington, 11:30 a.m.; 20: at Florida, 7 p.m.; 21: vs. TBA (Florida tournament), 4:30 p.m.; 31: Presbyterian, 2 p.m.
Jan.—2: Winthrop, 7 p.m.; 7: at Gardner-Webb, 5 p.m.; 9: at UNC Asheville, 7 p.m.; 14: Radford, 2 p.m.; 16: Liberty, 7 p.m.; 21: at Campbell, 1 p.m.; 23: at High Point, 7 p.m.; 28: Coastal Carolina, 2 p.m.
Feb.—4: UNC Asheville, 2 p.m.; 6: Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.; 11: at Liberty, 2 p.m.; 13: at Radford, 7 p.m.; 18: High Point, 2 p.m.; 20: Campbell, 7 p.m.; 25: at Coastal Carolina, 2 p.m.
March—2: at Winthrop, 7 p.m.; 5: at Presbyterian, 7 p.m. 9-11: Big South tournament.