MOREHEAD, Ky. – Official team practices have commenced for the Morehead State women's basketball program. With legislation set forth by the NCAA, The Eagles are allowed 30 practices in a 40-day window leading up to the regular season opener on Nov. 8.
"I have never been as enthusiastic to start practice, with this group, as I have ever been," Fourth-year Head Coach Tom Hodges said. "There was a lot of enthusiasm and volume today, and we are probably further along skill-wise than we've ever been at this point. I am very proud of our team and our approach to our first day."
Morehead State returns all five starters, including Second-Team All-Ohio Valley Conference pick Terrice Robinson. The senior guard ranked third in the league with 17.5 points per game last year and became just the eighth player in program history to eclipse 500 points in a season.
"Terrice's stats and accolades tell her story, and I think the success starts with her. I am excited for her senior season," Hodges added.
The backcourt also features junior guard Almesha Jones. She scored 11.1 points per outing last year, while ranking third in the league in steals per game (2.4) and fifth in assists per game (4.1). Senior guard Allie Turner, who has 121 career three-pointers, also returns to bolster the guard position.
The frontcourt features a pair of returning forwards. Juniors Casey Ryans and Mackenzie Arledge combined to average more than 10 points and 10 rebounds per contest.
"The maturity level of our junior class is unbelievable, and it's even hard to get across how important it is for our program," Hodges said. "Almesha has really come into her own, and I expect her to be an all-conference player. Mackenzie is so much more sure of herself and confident this year."
Guards Tyler Ituen and Shanice Parker also return for their final collegiate campaign. Sophomore guard Natalie Greenwell, who has endured season-ending injuries her first two seasons, is expected to return as well.
"Our seniors have grown up so much. They were freshman when I took over this program, and I like to say we have partnered together to make this our best year yet," Hodges said. "They have embraced the role of a senior and have worked extremely hard to set an example and hopefully pass it on to our younger players."
Morehead State has added seven newcomers. Guards include Monique Bunk, Madison Jones and Aaliyah Wells while the forwards are Taybreanna Couch, Billie Hearn, Shiloh Murphy and Shay Steele. Couch and Bunk are junior transfers while the other five are true freshmen.
"Tay and Monique will bring immediate experience, and I look for our four freshmen to carry a big load, minute-wise, early on," Hodges said. "As with all freshmen, it's getting them up to speed on intensity and learning the system. If we get those invisible stats figured out and their mental state meets their physical state, we will be in good shape."
The staff is comprised of four new members. Mark Kost, the former interim head coach at Coastal Carolina, joins former Villanova student-athlete Sarah Jones and former Middle Tennessee player Chelsia Lymon as assistant coaches. Matt Schiff, who was on the women's basketball staff at Rutgers most recently, is the program's graduate manager.
The non-conference home schedule includes Colonial Athletic Conference foe George Mason (Nov. 12), Mid-American Conference member Ohio (Nov. 16), Atlantic 10 front-runner Duquesne (Nov. 24) and Big Ten Conference opponent Indiana (Dec. 8).
Morehead State finished 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2012-13. The Eagles open the season with an exhibition game versus Kentucky Christian on Nov. 1.