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NEWPORTâ€“There will be no shortage of veterans for the North Country girls basketball team this season. The ten player team consists of an even split of juniors and seniors, including all of the 2010-2011 starters, and Coach Christiane Brown is ready to work with the older group.
"I'll tell you what is exciting for North Country is that we are veterans. I have an experienced squad coming back and it's like I don't have to teach what our system is. They know it. They have experienced it, and it is just now giving them friendly reminders."
When I visited the team's practice last week the coach was putting the team's play knowledge to the test as she was having the team run through a myriad of offensive looks that were being set up with silent calls. However the coach was hesitant to go into any details about the plays.
"The one thing I can tell you is I don't have to redevelop the system. The girls know the system, I'm just now going to make it more complex for them and they are going to have to be thinkers out there on the floor."
Offensively, the coach spoke about her own big three, seniors Emma Joslin, and Noelle Pinard, and junior Anna Bingham, and what they will bring to the team.
"Noelle easily got ten rebounds a game last year, and that is going to happen again.
"Anna can shoot the ball as well anybody. She takes people off the dribble, and she is coming out of her shell and becoming more of a leader, and as you know last year she defensively handled the best players in the state.
"Emma Joslin is the backbone of our team. We rely on her to run what we need to have happen out on the floor, and I think people respond to some of her 'wow' moments. Right now we are waiting for her to recover from a pretty severe ankle injury. It is going to be a little bit of time before we really have her."
"We are looking to be a lot stronger offensively and defensively," said Joslin, "Defense is out motto and we have to work hard in our own end to win games."
Defense. We hear it come up again and again in these team previews, but really not enough can be said about strong team D. Protecting their own basket will again be a focus for North Country, and it starts with man-to-man coverage.
"Our man-to-man defense, our philosophy is that we need to keep them out of the paint," said Brown, "With us being so tiny we can't be in tight denial, we've got sag and protect that paint and be willing to close out hard on players receiving the ball outside. I shared with my ladies that I would rather give up a shot from the outside instead of them scoring from the paint. If they score in the paint we are done and it will be a tough battle to come back from."
A co-captain last season, Tiffany Morin will be looked to in 2011-2012 to be that leader once again.
Said Brown, "Tiffany has come in 100 percent better than last season. Her confidence when she has the ball is tremendous. She can handle that pressure and she is going to get after people defensively. She is also going to handle the pressure of the other team when we bring the ball up the court."
The team will not get ahead of it self this year. The plan is to take things one game at a time and make every game competitive.
While the team will be taking it game by game, fans may want to circle the last game of the regular season as a must see event. The Falcon's biggest win of last season was against Essex, and on March second the Hornets pay a visit to Falcon Country to close out the season.
The season starts tonight when the team opens the season on the road at Lyndon Institute. J/v starts at 5:30, Varsity at 7:30.