The Lakers enter the 2009-10 season having qualified for the SUNYAC conference tournament in eight straight seasons. With the season just days away, the team sets their sights on their first goal: number nine.
The Lakers are led by third-year head coach Tracy Bruno. Bruno has led the Lakers to a 26-27 overall record and 18-14 in the conference during her time here at Oswego State.
The overall record doesn’t tell the story, however. Bruno believes in playing tough non-conference opponents and this season is no different. The Lakers open up with New York University, a sweet-sixteen team from a year ago. Also on the schedule is the University of Rochester and Saint Lawrence, both NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago.
The Lakers return their do-it-all guard Kayla Ryan, a sophomore from Schaghticoke, N.Y. Last season she was named the SUNYAC Rookie of the Year and named to the All-SUNYAC Second team. Ryan led the Lakers in scoring and rebounding as a freshman a season ago, with 14 points and seven rebounds per game.
"Having Kayla back is important for us; the difference this year is she won’t have to carry the bulk of the load," Bruno said. "Her work ethic is second to none."
The Lakers also return captains Rachel Kohrs and Traci Bacon. Kohrs returns for her senior season having averaged six points per game a year ago.
"Rachel is a senior who had a great summer and has developed confidence in her mid-range game," Bruno said.
Traci Bacon will run the floor as the Lakers point guard. She is coming off a season where she averaged 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
"She is a fierce competitor and is improving on the defensive end," Bruno said.
Also returning to the Lakers is junior Erin Ostrander. Last season, she shot just under 34 percent from behind the arc. She is a pure shooter who will look to give the Lakers an outside threat.
Along with the returning players, Bruno has added tremendous depth with the additions of transfers Kristen Diglio from Onondaga Community College , and freshmen Taryn Smith and Meagan Stover.
Diglio averaged just under 12 points per game at OCC.
"Kristen is very versatile, she can shoot and take the ball to the rim," Bruno said. "She also brings winning experience and a winning attitude."
Meghan Stover starts her career in a Lakers uniform as a potent addition.
"She is extremely athletic, very versatile, can shoot from outside and also post up," Bruno said. "She has a lot of potential."
Taryn Smith adds to the Lakers depth as a player who can play inside or out. Bruno said she is a very versatile player.
The Lakers will try and find a replacement for Heather Merino, who averaged 13.2 points and five rebounds per game a year ago.
"We have to figure out where we will get those points from," Bruno said. "More importantly we can’t replace her experience and leadership."
Even though the Lakers have a lot of new faces, the expectations remain high.
"We are looking to win the SUNYAC Championship and earn a NCAA Tournament berth," Kohrs said.
Even with all the new faces, the chemistry is there.
"Our chemistry is very good, we have natural leaders and we are getting along real well," Bacon said.
Capturing their ninth consecutive appearance in the SUNYAC Tournament would be fulfilling, however this year’s Laker team have their hearts set on a little bit more than just an appearance.
"We want to host a home game; that means a top four [finish] in the conference standings," Bruno said. "We are also looking to get into the NCAA’s."
The Lakers open the season on the road at NYU on Nov. 15. Their first home game is Friday, Nov. 20 against SUNY Morrisville. It is part of the Oswego State Tournament.