AUBURN — Trust the process.

With apologies to the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Central Maine Community College women’s basketball team has built a process that has shown results, and thus has reason to be trusted.

But after using that process to go all the way to USCAA Division II National Championship Game, and winning it, the Mustangs must start that process all over again as a new season gets set to tip off.

“I think one of the things we learned is when you focus on the process you like what the process creates,” CMCC coach Andrew Morong said. “We always say it, ‘value the process, trust the process,’ and all that stuff, and usually they’re just words. But when it actually happens the way it’s supposed to happen it’s refreshing, knowing that what you’re doing is working, and you just need to continue that and build off of it.”

Last year’s title is something the Mustangs can build on, but in reality they’ll be starting from scratch. They’re not repeating, nor are they defending anything.

“We spent zero time talking about the repeat, but it’s also not like we’re not acknowledging what happened,” Morong said. “For us is, we don’t want to defend the title. I think when you play on the defense you’re playing not to lose. And we want to play to win, so we want to be on the attack all year. That’s really been our mindset. We’ve talked a lot about being on the attack and not on the defense. We’re not defending anything. No one can come in here and take away what we’ve already accomplished as a program. Those trophies and the banners aren’t going anywhere, so we don’t need to spend any time worrying about them.”

Morong instead is worrying about figuring out a starting lineup for the Mustangs’ alumni game. He has seven new freshmen to integrate with nine returning players.

“This is probably one of the best — if not the best — freshmen recruiting class in the history of this program,” Morong said. “So when you bring in some very talented new players who are challenging for spots that returning players want I think you’re always going to have a few speed bumps along the way, and I think that just works itself out over time.”

Many of the new faces are names high school basketball fans in Maine might have heard of. The recruiting class includes Edward Little grad Jordyn Reynolds (sister of CM returner Brooke Reynolds), Lincoln Academy grad Cagney O’Brien (former teammate of CM sophomore Samantha Burke), Alex Bessey of Jay, Brianna Mulherin of Wales, Kristen Huntress of Harrison, and Natalie Thurber of Wells. Rounding out the freshmen class is Devona Kinsey of New Britain, Connecticut.

“I feel like this year’s class brings in size and length, it brings in athleticism, speed and quickness, it brings in shooting, and it brings in play-making ability,” Morong said. “It’s not just the two or three of them that got all the accolades. There’s seven new players and they will all play major minutes for us this year, some more than others, but they are all capable of scoring 20 points each on any given night.”

Local returning players include Hayley Peterson of Bethel, Rylee Moore of Livermore, and Eraleena Gethers-Hairston of Auburn.

Morong said he expects his starting lineup to be “fluid,” and that as many as 10 different players could start in a game. So part of the process is to create chemistry up and down the roster.

“Off the court, the chemistry is great,” sophomore captain and Lewiston native Kristina Blais said. “On the court we’re still working out a few things because we have a few shy girls. But overall I think that the chemistry is good and it will keep working itself out.

“For me, I think that I trust the process because of last year. So it’s more just trying to get the freshmen to buy into the process and making sure that they understand what we need to do in order to have succeed this year.”

The key to finding similar success to last year — besides staying healthy — is for the Mustangs to stay focused, according to Morong, because they’ll be getting every opponent’s “best shot every single night.” That means finding ways to win when shots aren’t falling or things aren’t clicking.

If the focus is there, the Mustangs’ talent should be able to shine.

“I actually think that we are bigger, faster, stronger, longer and deeper than we were last year,” Morong said.

That comes back to the process, which is about the talent reaching its full potential, according to Blais.

“Our full potential is not something that’s measured on the scoreboard or on the schedule,” Morong said. “We could lose 10 games this year and still have a very successful year if these guys reach their potential, individually and as a team. I think this team has the highest potential of any team we’ve ever had here. But the higher the potential is, the longer the road is to get there, so we have a lot of work to do.”

The road, as always, has a desired destination of a championship, whether it be of the Yankee Conference or the USCAA. Morong said that’s always been the goal, from the time former coach Mike Bridges started the program in 1998, and it still is in Morong’s seventh year.

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