UMf forward Molly Folsom takes a shot as Beavers coach Jamie Beaudoin, far right, watches during a game last season. Jeff Lamb photo

University of Maine at Farmington women’s basketball coach Jamie Beaudoin likes the Beavers’ chances — especially with several veterans and a handful of athletes back on board this season.

“With a new season upon us, there is excitement within our team about the possibility of being more competitive than a year ago,” he explained. “We return eight players from a year ago, three of whom were starters. … Within that group are five players that will enter their second year with the program. Historically, this is the year where they make a jump in their performance after a year in our program.”

That slew of experience and talent could inevitably earn the Beavers, who finished 6-20 and 6-8 in the North Atlantic Conference last year, a postseason appearance.

Junior forward McKenna Brodeur was a First-Team All-Conference player last season and the leading returning scorer and rebounder, with impressive stats like 13.5 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game.  

“(Brodeur) has the ability to create her own shot and gets to the foul line for us,” Beaudoin said. “Sophomore forward Molly Folsom (7.8 pgm, 5.4 rpg) is a versatile player depending on the matchup and can play in the post or on the wing.”

Other top veterans include: Sophomore guards KK Wilson (3.5 ppg) and Chelsea Crockett (2.6 ppg); junior guard Kasey Talarico; senior guard Sara Lamb and sophomore and junior guards Cassidy Delano and Halee Ramsdell.

“Wilson (played) point guard year ago and will still see more time off the ball this year. (She is a) solid defender who is a calming influence with the ball in her hands,” Beaudoin said. “Crockett made great strides a year ago after transferring in second semester. (She has a) high basketball IQ and can guard multiple positions and provide a lift with her ability to shoot.

“(Ramsdell is a) defensive presence who can change shots as a post defender. (Talarico is a) quick defender who allows us to put more pressure on the ball, plus has the ability to get into the lane with her driving ability. Delano has made great strides over the last year to improve her game. She is a glue player for us, with her ability to connect with her teammates.

“(Lamb) will be the leader on our team and has battled injuries, but has a strong understanding of our program, her strengths as a player, as a shooter and understanding her role and the importance of it.”

There are several newcomers who will also play vital roles this season, including three guards — freshman Courtney Brent, sophomore Tia Day and junior Alex Bessey — and sophomore forward Page Brown.

“(Bessey) can play on or off,” Beaudoin said. “(She is a) good defender with high basketball IQ and has experience and was a successful player from Central Maine Community College. Brown will add balance to go along with McKenna Brodeur as another post player in our lineup. (She) gives us another option for paint touches.

“Day is another guard who can play on or off the ball (and) always looks to involve her teammates, but can also be a scoring threat. Brent is a solid shooter who can also get in the lane with her ability to drive. Also a solid defender who can guard multiple positions.”

Beaudoin said the positives abound for this season’s team.

“I believe our strength is a combination of four things — a strong core of our returning players, our balance from the top of our lineup to the bottom, our new players to our program have made our practices much more competitive and the confidence that our players have exhibited in our preseason.  

“They believe they can earn a home playoff game, that we can improve our non-conference record and ultimately be more competitive each game from start to finish. They have confidence in their own game, but also are gaining each others’ trust, knowing they have high aspirations and want to achieve those goals.”

Beaudoin, for the moment, must play the waiting game for several players to suit up.

“We have key players that are still competing with their fall athletic teams,” Beaudoin said. “So as we await their arrival, we continue to implement our schemes, but knowing we will have to start the process over again once they arrive.

“With our balance and trying to develop a new team, to go along with new players, I believe that once we hit January we will play with a confidence that will allow us to compete for a conference championship.  

“We need to grow and improve as a team. A year ago, we had great chemistry. Now we need to take another step forward to improve our competitive spirit. We will find success and I am sure we will face some adversity. How we react in the face of adversity will be key.”  

Beaudoin is well aware of the competition inside and outside the NAC.

“We again face a challenging non-conference schedule playing Bowdoin, Bates, Colby, Southern Maine, St. Joseph’s and Castleton,” Beaudoin said. “These will all be tough games for us as the majority of them are (during) first semester. A year ago, we were chasing all of our non-conference games and forced to have perfect possessions or to had to foul. That is a tough formula for success.

“A year ago there were three teams that were fighting for the last two playoff spots and we were able to grab the fifth spot. Other programs in our conference lost key players as well. I believe we can make a jump to compete with Husson and Maine Maritime, who finished No. 1 and No. 2 a year ago.”

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