This season the Lady Leaf basketball team will be faced with some tough challenges, mainly — their inexperience — but hope their depth with turn into an asset.

This season the Lady Leaf basketball team will be faced with some tough challenges, mainly — their inexperience — but hope their depth with turn into an asset.

“Without a doubt, the toughest hill to climb is figuring out who we are without a huge amount of varsity experience,” said head coach Scott Hardison. “We have a good group of girls who want to be good and love the game of basketball. We just don’t have a lot of experience on the floor.

“We are working on getting into shape. We are very young and very inexperienced. We return less than 3.5 points per game, but we are learning.”

This season, the Geneseo girls’ basketball team will be comprised of three seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores and one freshman.

The seniors looking to lead the way for Geneseo are: Emily Ford, Rachel Ganson and Katelyn Mundt.

“We definitely have some leaders in the group of seniors,” said Hardison. “Emily has the most game-time experience. She is an extremely hard worker, leads by example and does it twice as hard as anyone else. She exudes credibility.

“Rachel is a natural-born leader, and I expect her to be the vocal leader of the group just because of her personality.

“Katelyn brings experience back in understanding the style of play and how to run the offense. She will show the other girls what to do.”

Joining the three seniors are juniors: Abby Marmion, Bailey Conard, Molly DeBrock, Rori Westerlund, Kaylie Piekos, Darci Dietrich, Jamie DeFauw and Audrey Anderson.

“Jamie DeFauw coming in as a 6’0” girl will be the girl we look at to help replace our height and post play that we lost from last year,” said Hardison. “I look for her to use her limited varsity experience to be a foundation and our post leader.

“Three of our guards, Rori, Kaylie and Molly, practiced with us last year, and I see their speed, so hopefully that will translate into success.

“For the rest of the juniors, the speed of the game is different, and I am trying to express to them to come in with an open mind and good work ethic. They need to work hard.”

Others looking to help out the Lady Leafs this season are sophomores: Anna Wise, Emily VandeWiele, Abby Wilebski and Hannah Kain and freshman Emma Vandemore.

“Hannah is coming off an ACL tear last season,” said Hardison. “She is a strong, tall girl and that is something we were lacking so she is getting the opportunity because of her size. I want her to work her tail off in practice to get caught up because jumping from freshmen to varsity is a huge jump. I believe we need three post players to play and she gives us that role.”

Coach Hardison said although the personnel has changed, the Lady Leafs won’t stray from their style of play, but will make a few tweaks.

“I believe in having a program and an established style of play, but if you are not willing to tweak because of your personnel you won’t go too far,” he said. “We are not going away from our philosophy and will stay with what got us to where we are.”

A strength for the Lady Leafs this season will be their depth.

“By January, when we get into the meat of the conference season our depth will be our strength because we have a lot of girls that can play,” said Hardison. “We also have freshmen and sophomores that will push the juniors and seniors.”

While the Lady Leafs are inexperienced this season, the girls did get some experience over the summer and this fall, which coach Hardison hopes will translate over to the regular season.

“Our first goal is to win conference and that is something that is an attainable goal if we work hard and play well,” he said. “Ottawa is at the top of the conference, but that is not to say I don’t think we can compete with them. Sterling is good again and Dixon is getting better.

“We also want to win a regional and see what we can do at sectionals after that.”

The Lady Leafs will again this year have some speed on the floor with players like Ford, Piekos and DeBrock, along with DeFauw and Dietrich as mobile, athletic and flexible posts.

While this year’s team has some big shoes to fill from last year’s squad, coach Hardison believes his team can pick up where last year’s team left off.

“This team looks like that team did two years ago where they had a lot of juniors with potential and they have a chance to make some noise,” he said. “We want to win this year, but part of this year is building the program for next year.

“I like to think of this as an opportunity season. We have girls who have the opportunity to step into the lime light that was made by the girls of the past. We have a chance to make some names for new girls.”

Coach Hardison said this year’s team’s key to success can be summed up in one word, confidence.

“Confidence will be key this year,” he said. “They have to believe in what they can do. They are leaning on their inexperience as a crutch right now, but the coaching staff believes in them. There is not a team on our schedule that we don’t belong on the floor with and they need to believe that, too.”

Geneseo opens the 2012-13 season in the Tip-off Classic Nov. 12-17.