The Felician University women's basketball team enters 2015-16 with a 14-player active roster. However, only six of those athletes competed for the Golden Falcons a year ago.
While that fact might worry some coaches, Felician eighth-year head man Steve Fagan prefers to focus on the teaching opportunities that his young roster makes available.
"There's no doubt that with such a young team, there will be a learning curve," said Fagan, whose squad includes five true freshmen plus one redshirt freshman. "We're teaching the value of each possession, one possession at a time. Our younger players are responding to having to gain a deeper understanding of the game, and how their roles fit into the bigger picture."
Felician's revamped roster allows the coaching staff the potential for more depth than the 2014-15 team, which put three players among the top 10 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference in minutes played. Fagan hopes he will be able to use a great deal of his bench players in various game situations.
"We are more interchangeable than last year, and because of that, our players need to understand that last year's statistics don't matter," Fagan said. "Competition in practice has greatly improved. When we are playing well, we'll use many players and try to speed up the game on both ends of the floor. The new rules in NCAA women's basketball this year only enhance that philosophy."
GUARDS: Felician returns the experience and scoring punch of senior Eliana Scanlon (New York, N.Y./Oak Hill Academy [Va.]) and sophomore Shyla Osmond (New Haven, Conn./Hillhouse). In addition to their offensive prowess, Osmond led the CACC in steals last season, and Scanlon was fourth in assists.
But the coaching staff has multiple options in the backcourt. Junior Taylor Trotman (East Orange, N.J./University HS), who sat out last year after transferring, is a dependable point guard. Sophomore Danelle Gibson (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) is back after being limited to nine games due to injury last season. Hannah Johnson (Jersey City, N.J./Saint Dominic Academy) is a versatile freshman who can bring energy to either guard position, and freshman walk-on Bianca Muja (Montclair, N.J./Montclair) improves the Golden Falcons' depth.
WINGS: Senior Sierra McDuffie (Paterson, N.J./PCTI) played in all but one game in 2014-15, but was hampered by nagging injuries. The coaches are hopeful that a healthier McDuffie can once again be an effective shot blocker and protector of the basket.
Fagan's other options at the wing are all solid perimeter shooters who can extend a defense. Senior Alex Salaycik (Staten Island, N.Y./Moore Catholic) is back after a medical "redshirt" season, while true freshman Devin Fitzgibbons (Winslow, Maine/Winslow) and redshirt freshman Kayla Hourany (Maspeth, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) seek a role in the playing rotation.
POSTS: Sophomore Treanda Foster (Bronx, N.Y./John F. Kennedy) is a returnee who will look to develop her all-around game. Junior walk-on Success Edioma (Newark, N.J./East Side) is improved after a year of varsity play. The Golden Falcons will also look for a boost from 5-foot-10 freshmen Kameron Stone (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) and Remi Iwelu (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Laughlin).