Expectations high as Lehigh women's basketball begins preseason practice

Expectations high as Lehigh women's basketball begins preseason practice

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. — The last full week of September marked the first week of practice for Lehigh women’s basketball, as the team took the court at Stabler Arena last Wednesday for the first official practice of the 2019-20 season. A team that is full of returning talent, including four of the team’s starting five from last season, the expectation to win and to go on a deep run is strong for this group of student athletes coached by head coach Sue Troyan, who is about to begin her 25th season as the head coach of this very successful program.
 
Starting with the first practice last Wednesday, the team began a four-week journey leading up to the season opener at Delaware State on Nov. 6.
 
“The first practice of the year is always an exciting time for us because it’s where the journey starts,” said Troyan. “After a three-week preseason the kids have been really excited to get started with on-court practices, getting after it and competing against each other.
 
“With six seniors on the team, five true seniors and fifth-year in Meagan Eripret, there is a lot of anticipation and excitement for the upcoming season.”
 
In addition to Eripret, the Mountain Hawks will return First Team All-Patriot League selection Camryn Buhr, All-Defensive Team selection Hannah Hedstrom, as well as seniors Gena Grundhoffer and Cameryn Benz to the floor for the upcoming season. After losing Hailey Pascoe to graduation in May, Lehigh will look to junior Mary Clougherty to step up in that sharp-shooting role, as well as sophomores Emma Grothaus and Clair Steele to provide valuable minutes off the bench.
 
After a 21-10 season one year ago and just missing out on a chance to compete for the Patriot League title by one game, the expectation to compete and to thrive is high for Troyan’s Mountain Hawks, as they have already begun the journey to succeed going further.
 
“Each year they have gotten better and better,” said Troyan. “As a group, I think they take a lot of pride in what they achieve and how they compete and they set high standards for our program both on the court and off the court and they have high expectations for this group honestly.
 
“It’s a group we’ve got really strong leadership, great seniors in our program. Every championship team I’ve been a part of has had a fifth-year on it, and this year it’s Meag. I think fifth-years bring a different dynamic to the program just in terms of understanding of the culture that takes place, winning and understanding the system for four years, so I’m excited to have this great group of seniors that can lead the way for us.”
 
The Mountain Hawks have two freshmen, Anna Harvey and Frannie Hottinger, who will look to make their debuts pretty early on in some depth roles for Lehigh. Both products of the Minnesota recruiting pipeline, they are already familiar with some of their teammates from past years, so that will be a benefit to having them fit in with the rest of the team.
 
“We have two very talented freshmen who are coming from two very strong Minnesota high school programs,” Troyan said. “They are both strong prospects coming out of the state and you know, they’re coming into a program with a lot of returning talent, so they’re going to have to maneuver their way to get into the lineup, but they are both talented kids that are really going to add depth and strength to our program and make a really competitive team that much more competitive.”
 
The start of the preseason has been a great experience for the student athletes as well, especially for senior Hannah Hedstrom, who is coming off a great season on a personal level, both on the court and in the classroom.
 
“It’s been a great start, we have a great group to hit the ground running right away,” said Hedstrom. “We’ve been having a lot of fun, but there’s a lot to work on too. I’m really excited for the season to start.
 
“We know it’s a long season and there’s a lot of work too put in to get there (the Patriot League Championship), but we’re confident we have the pieces and the mindset to get to that point. We have a lot of seniors and a lot of players that have played a lot of minutes so we know what it takes, but it’s just going to be an ongoing process of making sure we get there.”
 
So at the end of the day, what is the expectation for this team?
 
“My expectation is that we win the Patriot League Championship,” Hedstrom said.
 
Not a bad goal to have.
 
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