BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The bright lights have been turned on once again inside Stabler Arena and preparations have begun as the Lehigh women’s basketball team opened its preseason camp earlier this week. The Mountain Hawks are gearing up in anticipation of the 2012-13 season that will begin in just over a month when Lehigh travels across the country to the Golden State to take on the California Golden Bears on Nov. 9.
"We had a great preseason during the month of September," said head coach Sue Troyan. "We made great progress in strength and athleticism by working with the strength and conditioning coaches. They worked really hard and gave us a very strong base."
As the players work through various drills to enhance their skills and athleticism in anticipation for competition to begin, senior co-captain Kelly Peterson explained her enthusiasm to be back with her teammates after a summer in California.
"It’s been fun to get back and see everybody again," said Peterson. "Our team dynamic is really good and our freshmen are already working in, so we’re very close with them. It’s nice to see everybody and play against each other again."
With over a month before the season begins, by the time November rolls around, the Mountain Hawks will be anxious to play against an opponent, but for now they are focused at the tasks at-hand.
"I’m sure in a month we’ll be a little sick of playing against each other, but so far we’re having a good time," said Peterson.
The Mountain Hawks lost two key players from last year’s team that made it to the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament. Lehigh must try to adjust to the loss of its top two leading scorers from a year ago in Alexa Williams (12.1 ppg) and Emily Gratch (11.9 ppg), a challenge that Troyan believes presents an exciting opportunity for her squad.
"It’s an exciting time for our program," said Troyan. "We’ve had the graduation of a significant senior class and there is a lot of opportunity for our underclassmen. We’ve got a great group of returning players that are competing hard for the opportunities in front of them."
Troyan’s 2012-13 squad will feature a harmony of experience and youthfulness that the Mountain Hawks are hoping creates the perfect recipe for a Patriot League championship in March. The seasoned portion of the Lehigh roster is guided by four seniors and a group of returning players that have gained an extensive amount of playing time over the past few years.
"We have a good balance between the experience that we have in our upperclassmen, particularly our seniors who provide great leadership," said Troyan. "They are coupled with the youth of our freshmen which are being guided by that group of leaders."
The Mountain Hawks’ tilt with the Golden Bears will be especially exciting for Peterson, as the Concord, Calif. native will be making her homecoming in the Brown and White. The senior co-captain expressed her personal excitement, but also recognizes that the game will be an important step in preparing for Patriot League play. California earned an eight-seed in the NCAA Tournament last season and presents a challenging obstacle for the Mountain Hawks as they begin their season.
"I think everyone’s excited," said Peterson. "It’s going to be a good team and it’s going to be competitive. We’re going to have to give them our best, but it will be a good experience for us. It’s going to be a lot of fun and something I’ve been thinking about for a while now so I’m excited for that."
After starting the season on the road for their first two games, the Mountain Hawks will return to Stabler Arena on Nov. 20 for their home-opener when they play host to the La Salle Explorers at 2 p.m.
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