Women's Basketball Opens Practice with Renewed Excitement

Bradlee Cotton and Peyton Carroll
Bradlee Cotton and Peyton Carroll

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After an off day on Thursday, the Northern Arizona women's basketball team returned to practice on Friday, as they continue preparation for their season opener in just over a month. With new faces to incorporate and new systems to learn, the Lumberjacks have utilized every minute of their first four official in-season practices.

"The first four days have gone really well," said interim head coach Robyne Bostick. "Everyone came in on Sunday and there was an excitement of being out there on the first day. There was a lot of energy and the team was very focused. We are putting in a lot of new things, both offensively and defensively, but everyone was attentive and they're picking things up quickly."

NAU opened up with its first of 30 practices Sunday morning in the Rolle Activity Center with a spirited session. The team then practiced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before taking their first day off from the gym on Thursday.

Bostick will lead a team returning four players who ended the season as starters a year ago in seniors Rene Coggins, Taylor Leyva and Catelyn Preston along with sophomore Kaleigh Paplow. The Lumberjacks will also have the services of senior Brittani Lusain, who started the first 11 games of the season last year before missing the conference slate.

While NAU has a bulk of talent returning, the 'Jacks have been working in four newcomers – all of whom are freshmen – into the mix. The Lumberjacks have also been adding in juniors Kenna McDavis and Olivia Lucero, both of whom will be eligible to play for the first time after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Returning or not though, all of the players have been thrust into learning new schemes on both ends of the court. Although the 'Jacks are coming off a disappointing 6-24 campaign last season including a 2-16 Big Sky record, the enthusiasm and excitement is palpable already with hopes of turning the page and looking forward.

"The team wants to play like we have something to prove," Bostick said. "The senior class who have been in the program going into their fourth year, they want to go out with a good season and show everyone that we're better than our record has indicated in the past."

"We're changing the look of NAU Basketball," Leyva added. "That's something that everyone has a lot of pride in and we're really excited to see UTEP come November."

The Lumberjacks open the 2016-17 season at UTEP in El Paso, Texas on Friday, Nov. 11.