The Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) women's basketball team will begin the 2018-19 season with a home game against the William Penn University junior varsity November 1 inside the DMACC gymnasium.
The Bears return five sophomores from their 2017-18 team that compiled a 20-12 record overall and a 7-7 mark in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC), finishing fifth in the league standings.
"This is my 14th year (at DMACC) and I feel as nervous as I did when I first got into coaching," DMACC women's basketball coach Steve Krafcisin said. "I really like the girls that we have. We have an interesting mix this year with nine freshman and five sophomores."
Sophomore returnees include Aliyah Robinson of Waterloo, Taylor Abernathy of Chicago, Ill., Grace Stalzer of Zearing, Emma Rouse of Boone and Ellie Horn of Newton. Robinson is the top returning scorer from last season and she averaged just four points a game.
"We're going to have to find out where the points are going to come from," Krafcisin said. "I thought we recruited pretty well and addressed some needs that we had. The journey is going to be really interesting."
Krafcisin did say he like what he saw in the nine teams the Bears played in three jamborees.
"That helped us to find out what our strengths and weaknesses are," Krafcisin said. "I think we'll be stronger in the guard court."
Three of the new freshmen are point guards Shailece Porter of Walthill, Neb., Asia Mena of Chicago, Ill., and Jadyn Shonka of Nora Springs. One of the three will be the starter, allowing Krafcisin to move Robinson to off guard from her role as the backup point guard last season.
Robinson will be the starter at off guard with Rouse also vying for that position. A pair of freshmen, Bethany Evans of West Des Moines and Hannah McKinney of Des Moines are the candidates at small forward with Abernathy and freshmen Taelor Lessmeier of Fort Dodge and Charity Ransom of Slater also getting a look at that position.
Stalzer is penciled in to open the season at power forward with freshman Sameria Jackson of Houston, Texas, in a backup role.
Horn will open the season at center with Rouse and freshman Reganne Brewster of Grand Forks, N.D., backing her.
"I really like what we've done and where we are going with this team," Krafcisin said. "Emma Rouse is kind of our utility person. We can play her at any position and I think she'll become much more valuable because she is so smart out there. She got that three-point threat from any position."
Krafcisin's concerns heading into the season include how quickly the freshmen make the transition from high school basketball to college basketball.
"Because of the way I coach, I throw a lot at them," Krafcisin said. "I don't know where the points are going to come from, but I have ideas."
Krafcisin said the Bears played really good teams in the three preseason jamborees and handled themselves well.
"That was really encouraging," Krafcisin said. "We've been emphasizing taking good shots and finishing shots. We've got some bullets in the chamber and we're going to be okay."
Krafcisin said he believes his team is good enough to challenge for the ICCAC championship and do well in the postseason.
"We've got to overcome Southeastern Community College (SECC), North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC), Iowa Central Community College (ICCC) and Kirkwood Community College (KCC)," Krafcisin said. "We've seen those teams before and we know what we have to do to (win). I think this team was brought in with that idea. I'm optimistic about (winning the ICCAC). We just have to role that dice."