[media-credit name=”Catherine Mortimer” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
Weber State University’s Justine Johnson drives to the hoop during a game last season against the University of Nevada. The WIldcats will open their season on Oct. 21 against Boise State University.
The Weber State University women’s basketball team has a whole new look this season. With a new coach and style, the team is looking forward to the upcoming season.

The Wildcats recently started practicing in preparation for the upcoming season, and players say they have high hopes for the year.

“I expect us to bring a faster pace type of play that people may not be used to,” said WSU’s junior guard, Megan Patterson. “I think that we will surprise many teams this year. The team is a great mix of returners and talented newcomers who will all contribute.”

This will be the first season for new Head Coach Bethann Ord. Ord is the fifth coach hired in WSU basketball history, taking over for Carla Taylor. WSU Director of Athletics Jerry Bovee said that Ord has brought experience and a new excitement to the program.

“She brings a great deal of experience in different programs around the country,” Bovee said. “She has coached in major conferences with teams that have had success in the NCAA Tournament. She will bring a high level of experience to Weber State and will make an excellent addition to our athletic department.”

In her past three seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Louisville, Ord helped the team advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Ord said that she is pleased with what she has seen from WSU so far and is expecting to have a good season.

“My staff and I are continuing to instill a great work ethic, which will give them confidence and a winning attitude,” Ord said. “They are all taking ownership and looking forward to bringing this program to a new level.”

The Wildcats have a core group of returning players. Patterson is the top returning scorer from last season’s team, averaging 11.8 points per game. This included 73 three-point field goals in 2010-2011, which is the most of any player returning to the Big Sky this season.

Sophomore point guard Justine Johnson started in 18 of the Wildcats’ final 20 games last season, leading the team in assists with 103 (3.8 per game), and was second in steals (35 overall with 1.25 per game).

Senior forward/center Mikell Woodfield started in 21 of the Wildcats’ 28 games last season and was the team’s top rebounder with 6.2 per game.

Sophomore transfer student Laura Palmere will also make her debut for the Wildcats this season. She said that she wants to see the hard work that the team has put in to pay off this year.

“I’m really excited to get going after all the preparation we’ve been through in the off-season,” Palmere said.  “We’re excited to get on the court with the coaches and get this season started.”

Players and coaches said that they are hoping to have a strong season, especially in the Big Sky Conference. Palmere said that there are good teams in the Big Sky, but any team has a chance.

“The Montana schools are always tough,” Palmere said. “But in a conference like ours, really any team could win on any given night.”

Fans will get their first opportunity to see the team on Oct. 26 during the annual Purple and White game, with WSU officially starting the 2011-2012 season on the road against Boise State University on Sunday, Nov. 13 in Boise, Idaho.

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