It's a good thing UC Davis women's basketball coach Jennifer Gross has always embraced change. This season she has no other choice.
The Aggies graduated all five starters from a 17-13 season and now must rebuild in the tough Big West Conference. The Aggies return seven letter winners and welcome six newcomers, including junior transfer Kelsey Harris from Iowa State, who will sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.
"We're learning, and I tell my players all the time being a veteran is a mentality," said Gross, who enters her second season as coach but the 10th with the program. "Where we are now is much different than we'll be in conference."
Two players Gross and the Aggies hope to rely on this season are senior point guard Blair Shinoda and senior shooting guard Cortney French. Both are captains.
Shinoda is a quick ballhandler who also can grab rebounds. French is always a threat from beyond the three-point line. She finished last season second in the Big West with a 39 percent shooting percentage.
Sophomore Sydnee Fipps was right behind her with 37 percent from three-point range. She was third in the Big West as a freshman.
Gross said French took it upon herself over the summer to drive to Southern California and meet and hang out with the freshmen who were coming to Davis.
With that simple gesture, Gross said this year's squad bonded months ago. Many of the players also attended summer school together.
"You can make up for a lot with strong relationships," Gross said. "This is already a tight team."
While the Aggies will still rely on outside shooting, Gross said they will pound the ball inside more this season to take advantage of what should be a height advantage. She'll then rely on forwards Brianna Salvatore, a junior, and Alyson Doherty, a 6-3 freshman, near the basket.
The youth also is represented by freshman guard Molly Greubel. Greubel, from Santa Ana, had 16 points in her Aggies debut last week in an 83-68 loss to Pepperdine.
"It's a fresh look for us," Gross said. "But we're talented and that's the key."
The schedule will help the Aggies gain experience real quick. They host the No. 4-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Nov. 30. UC Davis will play tonight at USF.
Coach: Jennifer Gross (17-13, second season)
2011-12 season: 17-13 overall, 9-7 in the Big West Conference
Key losses: G Samantha Meggison, F Kasey Riecks, G Hana Asano
Key returnees: G Blair Shinoda, G Cortney French
Strengths: The Aggies have size on their side. They will start a point guard who's 5-10 (Shinoda) and get taller to 6-3 freshman forward Alyson Doherty.
Weaknesses: Experience could be a factor, since all five starters from last year were seniors. This could put the Aggies at a disadvantage until roles are established during the early part of the schedule.
No. Name P Yr. Ht.
1 Heidi Johnson F Fr. 6-2
3 Aniya Baker G Fr. 5-8
4 Idit Oryon F Jr. 6-0
10 Blair Shinoda G Sr. 5-10
11 Lauren Beyer F Fr. 6-1
12 Kelsey Beard F Jr. 6-3
13 Cortney French G Sr. 5-11
14 Sydnee Fipps F So. 5-10
15 Emily Vann F So. 6-1
20 Celia Marfone F Fr. 6-0
23 Molly Greubel G Fr. 5-9
24 Brianna Salvatore F Jr. 5-10
33 Kelsey Harris G Jr. 5-10
44 Alyson Doherty F Fr. 6-3
(All games on 90.3 FM
Date Opponent Time
Nov. 9 vs. Pepperdine L, 83-68
Today at USF 7 p.m.
Nov. 23 vs. Navy (in Houston) 3 p.m.
Nov. 24 at Houston Baptist 11 a.m.
Nov. 30 vs. Stanford 7 p.m.
Dec. 6 vs. Saint Mary's 7 p.m.
Dec. 16 vs. Santa Clara 4 p.m.
Dec. 21 at USC 5 p.m.
Dec. 22 vs. TBA (at USC) TBA
Dec. 28 vs. Washington 7 p.m.
Dec. 30 at Sacramento State 2 p.m.
Jan. 5 at Pacific* 4 p.m.
Jan. 10 at Cal Poly* 7 p.m.
Jan. 12 at UC Santa Barbara* 2 p.m.
Jan. 17 vs. Cal State Northridge* 7 p.m.
Jan. 19 vs. Hawaii* 2 p.m.
Jan. 24 at Cal State Fullerton* 7 p.m.
Jan. 26 at UC Riverside* 2 p.m.
Jan. 31 vs. Long Beach State* 7 p.m.
Feb. 2 vs. UC Irvine* 2 p.m.
Feb. 7 vs. UC Santa Barbara* 7 p.m.
Feb. 9 vs. Cal Poly* 2 p.m.
Feb. 14 at Hawaii* 9 p.m.
Feb. 16 at Cal State Northridge* 2 p.m.
Feb. 21 vs. UC Riverside* 7 p.m.
Feb. 23 vs. Cal State Fullerton* 4:30 p.m.
Feb. 28 at UC Irvine* 7 p.m.
March 2 at Long Beach State* 2 p.m.
March 9 vs. Pacific* 4:30 p.m.
Mar. 13-16 Big West Tournament TBA
*Big West Conference game