After losing much firepower to graduation, fans of the Missouri S&T women's basketball team probably don't know what to expect from the Lady Miners this season.
Head coach Alan Eads doesn't either.
Fans get their first chance to see the 2013-14 version of the Lady Miners on Saturday, when they host Livin' The Dream in an exhibition game. Tip-off at the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building is set for 1 p.m.
S&T comes in looking for new leaders in the scoring and rebounding columns after personnel losses from last season's squad, which finished 16-12 overall and 10-7 in Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) play.
And after taking a roster hit just prior to practice starting, the squad doesn't possess the usual depth an Eads' Lady Miners team has.
"It's been hard to get them all there at the same time for practice because of the time constraints we've had," Eads said. "It's hard to tell this early. It's pretty much a completely new group as far as starters. From our senior group, a couple have started off and on. Now they're in a position to have an opportunity to start on a full-time basis."
Gone from last season's unit are guard Taylor Jensen, Katelyn Heil and Kyesha Hall and forward Hailee Parks. The biggest loss is Parks, who was one of the top scorers and rebounders in program history and led the squad last season with 14.4 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Holdovers from last season include 5-6 senior Senait McLeod, 5-7 sophomore Dajae Williams, 5-8 senior Erica Askew and 5-9 senior Toni Knar at guard, and 5-11 senior Karlie Sample, 6-4 sophomore Leigh-Ann Kesper, 6-2 senior Kylie Cooper and 6-0 junior Joslyn Arthur at forward.
Knar, one of the top long-range shooters in the GLVC, is the top scorer returning at 9.0 points last season while Cooper averaged 7.2 points and 6.2 rebounds, Sample 6.0 points and 3.8 boards and McLeod 4.3 points.
Newcomers on the roster are 5-9 junior guard-forward Jaaron Kassanavoid from Highland Community College; 5-9 junior guard Mia Wesley from State Fair Community College, and 5-9 freshman guard Elsie Greenwood.
The most anticipated transfer to the squad was 6-3 sophomore forward Taylor Manuel, who averaged eight points and eight rebounds as a freshman in the Big 10 Conference last season with Purdue. However, prior to the beginning of practice Manuel left school, citing the desire to return to the Division I level. Also not returning to the team was 6-2 forward Carissa Richardson, a Sullivan, Mo. native who would have been a junior.
Eads was depending on Manuel to make a big contribution in replacing Parks inside.
"Every position is up for grabs," said Eads, the Lady Miners' all-time winningest coach in his 12th season with the program. "We've had good competition in each practice.
Page 2 of 3 - "It will be interesting to see how the new and old players will mesh. This is probably one year I have no idea what this team is going to be like."
In the backcourt, the big question will be who becomes the starting point guard.
"We've got McLeod and Williams and possibly Wesley," Eads said.
"Wesley is left-handed and I think she'll be a scorer for us. She's a good athlete and will be a scoring guard for us on the other side of Toni. Greenwood is our only freshman and she's showing signs she'll be able to play in her first year."
Inside it will take a combination of players to pick up the pace for the loss of Parks.
"Our (centers) are Kylie and Leigh-Ann," Eads said. "Kylie was solid last year and Leigh-Ann has improved. Sample will be at (power forward) and she's got to step up and play more minutes. Kassanavoid hurt her knee last year and is just getting back to 100 percent."
LADY MINER NOTES: There is the possibility that Parks will compete for Livin' The Dream against the Lady Miners on Saturday.
The Lady Miners will officially open their schedule on Nov. 8, hosting Westminster College (5:30 p.m.). On the Westminster roster is former Rolla High School standout Andrea Zalis, a freshman guard-forward.
S&T's first four games will be at home before competing in the Drury Holiday Classic on Nov. 29-30.
The Lady Miners open GLVC play on the road Dec. 5 against Drury.
The 2013-14 schedule:
Nov. 2...Livin' The Dream exhibition, 1 p.m.
Nov. 8...Westminster College, 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 15...Minnesota Duluth, 3 p.m.
Nov. 16...Arkansas-Monticello, 6 p.m.
Nov. 23...Harris-Stowe, 1 p.m.
Nov. 29-30: Drury Holiday Classic in Springfield: Nov. 29 vs. Union (Tenn.) 7:45 p.m.; Nov. 30 vs. Missouri Western, 7:45 p.m.
Dec. 5...at Drury, 5:30 p.m.*
Dec. 14...at Lindenwood, 1 p.m.
Dec. 21...at Henderson State, 2 p.m.
Jan. 3...Indianapolis, 5:30 p.m.*
Jan. 5...Saint Joseph's, 1 p.m.*
Jan. 9...at Southern Indiana, 5:15 p.m.*
Jan. 11...at Bellarmine, noon*
Jan. 16...William Jewell, 5:30 p.m.*
Jan. 18...Rockhurst, 1 p.m.*
Jan. 23...Maryville, 5:30 p.m.*
Jan. 25...Missouri-St. Louis, 1 p.m.*
Jan. 30...at Truman State, 5:30 p.m.*
Feb. 1...at Quincy, 1 p.m.*
Feb. 6...at Illinois-Springfield, 5:30 p.m.*
Feb. 8...at McKendree, 1 p.m.*
Feb. 13...Lewis, 5:30 p.m.*
Feb. 15...Wisconsin-Parkside, 1 p.m.*
Feb. 20...at Rockhurst, 5:15 p.m.*
Feb. 22...at William Jewell, 1 p.m.*
Feb. 27...Drury, 5:30 p.m.*
Page 3 of 3 - *-GLVC games