Photo by Bruce Jacobsen
How will the Marauder women's basketball team compare to last season? Can the Marauders compete without one of their top players? What will the new faces bring to the team?
Certainly those are some of the questions that head coach Barry Green is wondering and asking himself.
AVC opens its season on Thursday against Pasadena City College at the Bakersfield Crossover Tournament with a lot of unknowns.
"It is going to take us some time to develop," Green said. "How do we handle certain situations? How do we score? How will our bench players come in and contribute? I think we can compete with teams."
One thing is for sure the Marauders are very talented with many new faces.
Stephenson is a transfer from Sonoma State University where she received an athletic and academic scholarship. Stephenson, a graduate of Quartz Hill High School, said that Sonoma State didn't, "have the balance of sports and athletics," that she wanted, so a phone call to Green and she wound up back in the valley.
She will immediately help too. In high school Stephenson averaged 19 points per game and 18 rebounds per game as a senior. She will play the power forward position and help with rebounding, a void left by Shantanel Bivens, who is redshirting this season. Last season Bivens averaged in double figure points and rebounds.
"We've been practicing all summer and I've seen so much improvement," Stephenson said. "I'm really excited. I really think we can go really far. My goal is to make it to post season."
It's certainly possible, however, Green said LA Valley College and Citrus College are the teams to beat this season and defending conference champion College of the Canyons cannot be forgotten.
The Marauders look to improve on their 14-15 record from a season ago and have only one returning player this season, Makaela Manson, who started a few games last season.
"I think we'll do surprisingly good. We're going to be better than last year because the attitudes aren't here," said Manson. "We're smarter than we look. Our team, none of us want to keep the ball; we're very unselfish. We have good chemistry."
Smith, a native of Washington DC, will play the point guard position, which was vacated last season after Shekinah Broadway took her talents to Cal-State, San Marcos. Perkins, a graduate of Lancaster High, will also help. Green calls her, "the best 3-point shooter," on the team. Perkins hasn't played since 2011, but at Lancaster she averaged nearly 22 points per game her final year and connected on 72 3-pointers.
"I'm very excited for the season. They have spent a lot of time in the gym. Are we going to be an average team or one that competes in southern California?," Green said. "I think we'll struggle early on because of our inexperience. We can possibly be a third pace team."