ASU women's basketball team starts practice
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Appalachian State's women's basketball team did something it has not done in four years -- open fall practices without three standout players who were key to the program.
The 2012-13 version of the Mountaineers will have to figure out how to win basketball games without Anna Freeman, Courtney Freeman and Kelsey Sharkey. The three were starters.
Anna Freeman was a four-year starter who was one of the top players in the Southern Conference. Courtney Freeman started all the Mountaineers games her junior and senior seasons, 14 games her sophomore season and 16 games her freshman season.
Sharkey also started 20 games her junior season, 21 her sophomore season and 14 in her freshman year.
"We want to know who we are," Vincent said. "Everybody probably has that question about how we are going to do without Anna, Courtney and Kelsey. We can't wait, as a coaching staff, what we are going to be."
That's a lot of experience lost to graduation for an Appalachian State team that reached the Women's NIT for a second straight season in 2012-13 after posting a 20-11 record. It would seem that head coach Darcie Vincent has a lot of work in reconstruction of the team.
Yet, Vincent doesn't necessarily feel that way. She likes the competitive nature of the Mountaineers, who have five freshmen on the roster.
Vincent said the individual workouts the NCAA allowed the coaches to have with the players -- coaches are allowed to have groups of four for two hours a week for eight weeks -- made her look forward to the first day.
"I really enjoyed the individual time we had with the kids over the summer time," Vincent said. "At the same time, it just makes you so impatient because every time you teach them something, by the end of the practice within a half an hour, they'll get better, but then you don't get to see them for another four or six days."
Appalachian State has just one senior -- guard Michelle Taylor. The Mountaineers also have returning starters in junior starters Maryah Sydnor and Katie Mallow, and severl returning sophomore who saw some playing time in KeKe Cooper, LaShawna Gatewood and Bria Huffman.
Vincent is also anxious to see freshmen guards Bria Carter, Mary-Melissa Hoover, Joi Jones, forward Amder Doniere and center Mai Marshall.
"Each one of the kids we signed, we signed early," Vincent said. "They've been to multiple games. They've come to multiple practices. Probably of any group we've signed here, these five young ladies knew us better than any group."
Appalachian State opens its regular season Nov. 8 at Vanderbilt. The Mountaineers play at home Nov. 12 against East Tennessee State and Nov. 15 against Lees-McRae.