BY ESTEBAN RAMIREZ Special to The Californian
After earning a share of the conference title and going undefeated at home for the first time in school history, the Bakersfield College women's basketball team is looking to build off last year's success.
"We're a completely different team than we were last year," said Renegades coach Paula Dahl, who won Western State Conference Coach of the Year honors last season. "This team has great work ethic, but we'll be playing a different style of ball. The teams that play us will know that they played us because we play very physical, but I just hope to keep my team by the end of the game.
"I'm excited about this group. We have a lot of freshmen and we got some good returners but I'm just excited to see how we're going to do."
The BC roster has 18 players (five plan to redshirt) and returns several players who saw significant minutes last season, including all-conference forward Brittany Smith (Bakersfield Christian High), guard Emilee Parks (Stockdale), guard Haley Huntington (Liberty), guard Andrea Harris (Liberty) and guard Christina Soto (Golden Valley).
"I'm really pleased with this team," Dahl said. "This team picks up things really quick, and I don't have to ever ask them to do things more than once.
"The sophomores are doing a great job of saying. 'When coach says to do this, you do that.' So they're a great group."
BC finished last season 16-8 (10-0 at home) and tied with College of the Canyons for first place in the WSC South, but missed the playoffs because of a tiebreaker. The Renegades have lost a key piece of that team, conference MVP Jausecca Cockeral.
"I know this year's team really wants to build off what was established last year, and we have some very competitive kids," Dahl said. "We're not as polished as last year, but competing will make that happen. These freshmen don't understand yet what community college basketball is.
"Last year, we had returning players that filled the role, but this year's team wants to carry on the tradition and we're going to have to compensate for not having big bodies inside.
"One thing I love about community college basketball is that every year is different and creates a fun challenge. This year's team actually works a lot harder than last year's team. Jausecca was a very unique point guard so we will look different."
Dahl said she thinks the team will be competitive.
"I think we'll be an extremely competitive team, but they still need to find the difference of the level they played at and the level they will be playing at, so I'm really anxious for this weekend to see how we fair."
BC opens its season today at home in the Crossover Tournament against Cabrillo College at 7 p.m. BC plays Riverside College at home Friday at 5 p.m.