The MSOE women's basketball team battled through an injury-plagued two-win season in 2012-13, but came out stronger on the other side.
It's with that strength, and some reinforcements, that the Raiders are planning a turnaround season in 2013-14.
This season, head coach Jessica Ott returns five players that started at least 12 games last season and a sixth player that saw time in 20 games of the bench. All told, 87 percent of the team's scoring returns.
The 2013-14 Raiders will have one thing last year's team did not have and that is depth. In addition to seven players returning with collegiate experience, Ott has added six freshmen to the mix.
Coming off a year when eight players accounted for all but 68 minutes in a 24-game schedule, being able to maintain a deeper rotation will certainly be a welcome addition.
What's more important is the quality of the depth. Ott believes her team can feature a large rotation without much of a drop-off in production, whereas last season there were only seven healthy players at times.
The name that sticks out on the roster the most is sophomore Megan Kroll. Kroll returns after a standout rookie campaign that netted her conference freshman of the year honors. MSOE's do-everything guard averaged 14.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.4 assists in 38.4 minutes per night.
The Raiders' relied on three players for the bulk of their offensive output in 2012-13, as forwards senior Shannon Larson and junior Bre'Ana Strong also averaged double-figures in scoring while sharing the team lead with 6.8 rebounds per game. Larson was third on the team in scoring at 12.8 points per game, while starting all 18 games she played in. Strong finished with 13.2 points, but was limited to 16 games, including 12 starts.
After the top three, there was a drop-off in scoring as junior starting point guard Ali LoBue was fourth on the team in scoring at 5.1 points per game, while dishing out a team-high 2.6 assists.
Senior guard Courtney Leaf rounds out the returning starters. She was one of just two Raiders to appear in all 24 games and was the lone player to start all 24. She averaged 3.0 points and 3.1 rebounds as a junior.
Junior Marly Trier and sophomore Haily Fernald also return. Trier did not play last season, but appeared in 24 games in 2011-12 and averaged 3.2 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.8 steals per game. Fernald debuted last season with 20 appearances and had six points, 16 rebounds and five steals.
Ott is excited by her incoming freshmen, having seen signs of their potential during the early preseason practices. Forward Holly Denfeld headlines the freshman class after a decorated prep career at Edgar High School in Wisconsin. She was an all-state first-team selection and earned all-conference first-team honors three times.
Ott feels strongly that her whole freshman class can step in and contribute right away. Margaret Pugh, Corrine Sanford, Becca Keller and Marisa Gerstbrein will help out with the backcourt, while Rebecca Schroeder will add depth to the Raiders' post game.