Last season the Jamestown Community College women's basketball team played in the NJCAA Region 3 Division III championship game for the fifth time in six seasons.
The Jayhawks lost that title game to finish with a 19-12 record and they are now 1-5 in Division III regional championship games. But all that was under Keith Martin, who is no longer coaching after taking over as the athletic director in August.
So there is plenty new for the JCC women's program entering the 2012-13 season. There is a new coach, George Sisson, and eight new players on a roster of 12. So the regional title game, and even the regionals, is the furthest thing from the Jayhawks' minds.
The Jamestown Community College women's basketball team opens its season with an NJCAA Region 3 game at Tompkins-Cortland CC on Saturday. In front, from left, are Taylor Storer, Katie Douthit, Kelsie Beaver, Kaylee Sheldon, Kristen Biela and Lauren Saglimben. In back are head coach George Sisson, Brook Draggett, Ashley DePane, Alyse Kickbush, Alex Smith, Ashlynn Nicherson. Amy Sands and assistant coach Travis Wells.
P-J photo by Jim Riggs
''It's really is tough for everybody,'' Sisson said.
He noted it was mainly tough for the players, who were recruited by Martin and four played for him last season. They arrived back on campus in late August, ''Then boom, they get hit with the bombshell that Coach Martin isn't coming back.''
Instead, Sisson was coming back to JCC, where he was an assistant for the men's team for five seasons, after moving to Arkansas because of his job in minor league baseball.
''So we're all a bunch of rookies now,'' Sisson said.
One stabilizing factor is that assistant coach Travis Wells is back for his 18th season.
Practice began 3 weeks ago and Sisson noted, ''The first week or so I was trying to instill the style and the vocabulary. My philosophy in coaching is we don't try to do the same thing day in and day out (in practice). For the girls, every day was new.''
So sum everything up, Sisson said, ''Obviously, this is a marathon. We told them on Oct. 1 we need to put a brick in the wall.''
He added, ''My biggest fear right now is my own perception. All I know is what I have and what I see and what I want my girls to be.''
And the most important part of the season is at the end.
''We have to be good for one weekend (of the regionals), but you have to get to March,'' Sisson said.
There are four returning sophomores on the roster - Ashley DePane, Kelsie Beaver, Lauren Saglimben and Kristin Biela.
About DePane, Sisson said, ''She is going to be a swing player, a 2-3 guard. She brings to the program a lot of success from high school.''
The Jamestown graduate was The Post-Journal's co-player of the year for 2010-11.
''I'm looking forward to her being a scorer for us,'' Sisson said. ''Ashley is going to be called upon to be one of our steady perimeter shooters.''
DePane will form a 1-2 punch with another returning guard, Beaver, who will also be a swing player.
''We've been working with her to be more aggressive offensively, being more of a finisher,'' Sisson said about the Randolph graduate. ''She's another one that much is expected of. I see her having a nice year.''
Saglimben was sideline with a foot stress fracture last season and Sisson said, ''She's still struggling with that. It still bothers her, but she plays through it every day.''
The Allegany-Limestone graduate will be the backup at point guard playing in a 1-2 guard situation.
''She's a good perimeter shooter,'' Sisson said.
Biela is the only returning post player who did not see a lot of game action last season, but Sisson noted Franklinville graduate got plenty of experience in practice going against JCC's talented post starters.
''She has a tremendous work ethic,'' he said. ''She likes to get in there and mix it up and bang around.''
Another sophomore on the team, Alex Smith, is playing for JCC for the first time. The Pine Valley graduate played at Medaille College last season.
''She has some 3-point range in her shot,'' Sisson said of the 3-4 guard. ''I see her stepping out to the forefront and helping us (because of her college experience).''
Among the seven freshmen, Taylor Storer, has the chore of replacing Alicia Mikowicz at point guard. And Sisson thinks the Cassadaga Valley graduate fits his definition of a point guard.
''An effective point guard has to be aggressive to score and play off that,'' he said. ''I think if you're not aggressive, you can't be a good deliverer.''
So when it comes to Storer, Sisson said, ''She has wonderful ballhanding skills. I'm looking for her to start things on defense. I see her making tremendous strides early.''
Another freshman guard is Katie Sheldon from Panama.
''She's a good athlete that runs the floor very well,'' Sisson said. ''I can see her early on as a role player for us. She's still making the transition to the college game.''
A guard who is a freshman in eligibility, but a sophomore as a student, is Katie Douthit, who was on campus last year but didn't play.
''She'll help us with team speed,'' Sisson said about the Olean graduate. ''I'm anxious to see how she improves over the next couple of months.''
Another freshman from Cassadaga Valley is Brook Draggett.
''She's really improved her tenacity in the preseason,'' Sisson said. ''I'm looking to her to be a small forward. She's trying to get more comfortable in the physicality of the (college) game.''
Amy Sands from Sherman is expected to hold her own in the paint.
''She's a tough, roughed son of a gun,'' Sisson said. ''She boxes out well and mixes it up inside.''
Joining her will be Asylynn Nickerson, a walk-on from Friendship who has played softball at JCC.
''We're trying to get her to have a presence in the paint,'' Sisson said. ''We're trying to get her up to speed on what's going to be expected of her.''
Another post player will be Alyse Kickbush, who played volleyball at JCC but hasn't played basketball for four or five years.
''She brings a forward body to our program,'' Sisson said. ''She has some good offensive skills. We're just trying to get her used to the basketball speed.''
So there is gap between players who have and have not been playing basketball. And about the latter, Sisson said, The quicker we can bring them up to speed, the better we'll be. Everyone is better than us right now.''
The Jayhawks had a scrimmage on Saturday, but unfortunately one scheduled for Wednesday was postponed. So they will go into Saturday's opening game at Tompkins-Cortland CC without much ''game'' experience.
''We had some things exposed to us in the our scrimmage,'' Sisson said. ''Fortunately, we have five days to work on them. I think if we can concentrate on getting better individually and as a team, we'll be fine.''
Then they go right to work for real because after opening the season on the road on Saturday, JCC is right back at it on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a home opener against Niagara College.
JCC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Nov. 3 - at Tompkins-Cortland CC, 1 p.m.
Nov. 4 - Niagara College, 1 p.m.
Nov. 7 - Pitt-Titusville, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 9-10 - at Frederick CC Tournament
Nov. 17 - Lorain County CC, 1 p.m.
Nov. 20 - at Butler County CC, 5 p.m.
Nov. 28 - at Pitt-Titusville, 5 p.m.
Nov. 30 - Tom D'Angelo Memorial Tournament: Davis College vs. JCC, 6 p.m., Westmoreland County CC vs. Niagara County CC,6 p.m.
Dec. 1 - Tom D'Angelo Memorial Tournament: Davis College vs. Niagara County CC, noon; Westmoreland County vs. JCC, 2 p.m.
Dec. 4 - at Niagara College, 6 p.m.
Dec. 8 - at Quinsigamond CC, noon
Dec. 9 - at Orange CC, noon
Dec. 13 - at Lakeland CC, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 - at Lorain County CC, 4 p.m.
Jan. 5 - Butler County CC, 1 p.m.
Jan. 10 - Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 12 - at Mercyhurst North East, 1 p.m.
Jan. 19 - at Erie CC, 1 p.m.
Jan. 22 - Monroe CC, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 24 - at Genesee CC, 6 p.m.
Jan. 26 - Alfred State College, 1 p.m.
Feb. 5 - Mercyhurst North East, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 - Genesee CC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 - Erie CC, 1 p.m.
Feb. 12 - at Niagara County CC, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 19 - at Monroe CC, 6 p.m.
Feb. 23 - at Alfred State College, 1 p.m.