By Matt Green
COLUMBUS, Ga. – New seasons always bring new challenges. For a coach, often times a new season means working with a few new players.
New is taking on a whole different meaning this year for Shorter head women's basketball coach Vic Mitchell. For the veteran coach, this particular new season means coaching an almost entirely revamped roster.
Mitchell's new-look Lady Hawks will take to the floor for the first time tomorrow night, tipping off the 2012-13 season on the road at Peach Belt Conference power Columbus State in a 6 pm start from CSU's Lumpkin Center.
The Lady Hawks, playing in their first season as an NCAA Division affiliate and coming off a historic 2011-12 season, are set to unveil a roster featuring 11 newcomers after losing seven seniors to graduation from last season's record-setting 28-7 squad.
Fresh faces, however, do not mean a lack of experience for Shorter.
While most of the team will be putting on a Shorter uniform for the first time, several of the Lady Hawks have competed on the collegiate level prior to coming to Shorter, most notably junior transfers Karisma Boykin and Kristin Nash.
Boykin, a 5-7 point guard from Georgia College and State, and Nash, a 5-9 wing that played previously at NCAA Division I Belmont, figure to bolster a Shorter backcourt left to deal with the departure of a number of key cogs, including the program's only three-time All-American and all-time assists leader Kelly Ellison.
Boykin and Nash demonstrated their potential in Shorter's 55-49 exhibition loss at NCAA Division I Southeastern Conference member Mississippi State back on November 2. Boykin poured in 14 points while Nash added 12 points and a game high five steals. Boykin played 35 minutes as Shorter's floor general while Nash showed her versatility by also grabbing six boards. Both will be counted on to provide leadership to a roster filled with inexperience.
Headlining Shorter's short list of returners is senior forward Shelby Farrer, who had seven points and 12 rebounds in the aforementioned loss at Mississippi State.
A former Conference Freshman of the Year back in 2009-10, Farrer will need to provide the Lady Hawks with an experienced and seasoned post presence. Farrer has the stats to prove that she can provide that type of consistency, having averaged 8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds over her career.
Mitchell and the Lady Hawks will have to deal with one of the top teams in the Peach Belt in their opener.
Columbus State, which finished second in the PBC West Division last season with a 16-11 overall record, returns six players to its lineup, including senior Shan Basley (9.0 ppg) and junior Asha Alexander (7.4 ppg). An added bonus for the Cougars is the return of Tandria Milton, CSU's second leading scorer in 2010-11, who redshirted last season, but is ready to go on Wednesday night.
Shorter and Columbus State last squared off on the hardwood on November 29, 2010, with the Cougars pulling away in the second half for a 66-51 victory at the Lumpkin Center.
Fans unable to make the trip to Columbus on Wednesday night can follow the action by watching the live stats, accessing the video feed, or by listening to Jim Bojo call the game via the audio feed provided by 95.7 WATG-FM The Ridge.