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Montana State women's basketball opens 2019-20 campaign

Practice began Monday
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Posted at 12:38 PM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 14:38:55-04

(Editor's note: Montana State University athletics release)

BOZEMAN -- Montana State head women’s basketball coach Tricia Binford will experience a luxury she hasn’t had as she enters her 15th season at the helm of the Bobcat program.

That luxury is a large and experienced senior class.

Three-year starters Oliana Squires, Blaire Braxton and Madeline Smith will be joined by Martha Kuderer, who started for MSU as a junior after transferring from Seton Hall, and newcomer Fallyn Freije, who sat out last season after transferring from North Dakota.

It’s tough to call Freije a newcomer. The former UND Fighting Hawk earned two Big Sky Conference honorable-mention accolades and wreaked havoc in the Big Sky during North Dakota’s stay in the league.

“Our senior class has already established a tone for the season,” Binford said. “They bring great leadership qualities, and each brings something different to the program. They did a great job welcoming the newcomers into the family over the summer and getting them acclimated to campus.”

MSU opened its preseason drills on Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Shroyer Gym.

“We will use the first few days to build our legs and build our lungs,” Binford said. “We focused a lot on that area over the summer with the help of our strength/conditioning coach Alex (Jardine).”

In addition to its senior class, three other veterans return to the roster in Tori Martell, Ashley Van Sickle and Gabby Mocchi. Binford also expects that her highly-touted freshmen class will make an immediate impact as well.

“The newcomers bring high-energy to the team,” Binford said. “They’ll come in bringing what they have to the table. We want them to play to their strengths. They are a gifted group that has a lot of athleticism and power.”

Last season, Montana State posted a 16-15 overall mark and an 11-9 ledger in Big Sky play. The Bobcats lost to eventual league champion Portland State in the opening round of the Big Sky tournament.

“With a senior laden team, we have a sense of urgency going into the season,” Binford said. “We want to be attack minded. We’re strong in the post and we’re going to build off that because they’re tremendous communicators, and that will give us a bit more freedom to do some things defensively that we haven’t done in the past.”

While Binford admits there are many areas that need to be improved, the veterans, along with the newcomers, will take the next few weeks working on the blueprint for the 2019-20 campaign.