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Women's basketball preview: Bobcats open Saturday at Babson

Junior point guard Annie Burns is the team's most experienced player in terms of playing time.

LEWISTON, Maine -- For the third straight season, the Bates women's basketball team has graduated a do-it-all forward who was counted upon to produce in every game. Two years ago it was All-American Meg Coffin. Last year the Bobcats learned to live without Val Beckwith, also a former NESCAC Player of the Year and All-American. This year, it's the departure of First Team All-NESCAC forward Lauren Yanofsky that may create the most getting used to, at least in the early part of the season, which begins on Saturday at the Babson College Tipoff Tournament.


The overall outlook seems to be that the Bobcats are young but

Bates opens with a game against No. 19 nationally ranked Western Connecticut State on Saturday at 3 p.m., followed on Sunday afternoon against either No. 13 Babson or Regis at 1 or 3 p.m., depending on Saturday's results. The games can be followed via Live Stats and Video Webcast.

Yanofsky led the Bobcats in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots in 2009-10, as Bates posted an ultimately strong season, upsetting Williams in the NESCAC Championship semifinals before bowing out to top seeded Amherst to finish 14-12. The team's second-leading rebounder last year, guard Kellie Goodridge, has also graduated, creating a gap on the glass that Bates will need to negotiate right away. Junior point guard Annie Burns (Topsfield, Mass.) is the team's leading returning rebounder, at 3.7 per game, followed by sophomore forward Taryn O'Connell (Georgetown, Mass.) and sophomore guard Allie Beaulieu (Swampscott, Mass.), both at 3.3 per game.

Though she has only played two seasons so far for Bates, Burns has played 1,520 minutes in her career, 498 more than the next highest on Bates' list, senior center and fellow captain Jessie Igoe (Lexington, Mass.). The NESCAC's leading assist-maker in 2009-10, at 6.0 per game, Burns is likely to be the centerpiece of Bates' attack, though she has averaged fewer than 5.0 field goal attempts per game in each of her first two seasons.

Beaulieu, an All-State Rookie Team honoree last season after averaging 12.0 points per game while shooting .453 from the floor, including 50-of-128 from three-point territory (.391), is one obvious beneficiary of Burns's shot-creating acumen. Others will include O'Connell (6.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Igoe (5.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg), junior Kelsey Flaherty (South Portland, Maine; 4.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg), senior forward/center Christine McCall (Lowell, Mass.; 3.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg), who is also a team captain with Burns and Igoe, and junior guard Lauren Dobish (Chamberburg, Pa.; 3.9 ppg, 1.3 apg, 1.3 rpg,

Igoe, O'Connell and McCall have all shown the ability to put a deep imprint on any given game. Also ready to bolster the frontcourt and earn more playing time are sophomore Bri Hawkins (South Portland, Maine) and Colleen Garvey (Haverhill, Mass.), who stand 6-0 and 5-11, respectively.

Bates' rookie class features three guards -- Kara Garland (Rindge, N.H.), Meredith Kelly (Cohasset, Mass.) and Susan Russell (Bethesda, Md.), as well as 5-10 forward Simone Prioli (South Hamilton, Mass.) and 6-1 center Callie Cramer (Dedham, Mass.).

Jim Murphy '69 begins his 16th season as the team's head coach. He enters the year with 15 straight winning seasons and a career-record of 271-112 (.708), for the 37th highest winning percentage among active Division III coaches, and the 40th-best all-time.