Participation in multiple community service projects each preseason by the Felician University women's basketball team is designed to accomplish multiple goals. First and foremost, 11th-year head coach Steve Fagan takes the Golden Falcons to causes in which he believes for the betterment of the surrounding community.
But Fagan is also hopeful that in the process, his players will learn to support each other. The next step is the process is to bring that mentality onto the court, especially on defense.
"Defense is our top priority," Fagan said. "Good team defense starts with being there for each other. We have a team that builds each other up, and that helps when there are so many new players."
Seven players – more than half of the active roster – are new to the program, in the person of four true freshmen and three first-year transfers. But for Fagan, the teaching process differs very little despite the roster make-up.
"We're always trying to build on each practice each day," he said. "Every day needs to go in a positive direction. Where we'll be tested is, as the season wears on, handling the day-to-day grind of both winning and losing situations."
The bottom line for the Golden Falcons is that with good team basketball, results take care of themselves.
"We don't talk about wins and losses," Fagan said. "However, our upperclass players have been focused on all of the small details in practice and are doing a great job setting the proper tone. We need to play as a team on both ends of the floor, and that means sharing the ball and supporting one another."
GUARDS: Felician expects to start a three-guard offense led by Bionca Chambers (Bronx, N.Y./New Milford [N.J.]), already a well-rounded scoring threat as a sophomore. Senior Kayla Diaz (Clifton, N.J./Paterson Eastside) possesses excellent shooting range and passing ability.
Junior transfer Taliyah Brisco (Cambria Heights, N.Y./Francis Lewis) is the favorite at point guard. She offers strong defensive skills and decision-making while posing another scoring option.
Sophomore Nicole Pimentel (Newark, N.J./Science Park) and freshman Jaylee Sanchez (Union City, N.J./Hudson Catholic) give a backcourt presence at both ends of the court. Each is a strong defender on the ball, and both can attack the basket.
Sophomore transfer Brianna Lawrence (Spring Valley, N.Y./Ramapo) and freshman Asia Rivera (Saddle Brook, N.J./Saddle Brook) will look to use their abilities to score in multiple ways to break into the backcourt rotation.
FORWARDS: Senior Kameron Stone (Bronx, N.Y./Cardinal Spellman) began last season as a role player and finished it as a double-figure scorer. Her ability to step back should once again cause trouble for opposing defenses. The playing time for freshmen Angel Allen (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth) and Briana Boyd (Lumberton, N.J./Rancocas Valley) will hinge upon their ability to come off the bench with defensive pressure.
CENTERS: Senior captain Kristin Smith (Hainesport, N.J./Rancocas Valley) provides a power low-post presence at the '5' slot. She and Stone will be pushed by junior transfer Shaelee Brown (Amarillo, Texas/Tascosa), a "high baskeball-IQ" player who can be a leader on the court as a newcomer. Sophomore Dina Tall (Marietta, Ga./Marietta) looks to recover from preseason injuries in time to contribute.