If there's one thing that's immediately noticeable about this year's Alpena Community College women's basketball team, it's that the Lumberjacks have a lot of height.
In fact, nearly half of the players on ACC's 13-player roster are 5-10 or taller, something that impresses head coach Bobby Allen.
"Once the girls gel together, I think we'll be OK. We've got size this year. I didn't have that much size last year," Allen said. "I'm impressed with our size."
News Photo by James Andersen
The 2012-13 Alpena Community College women’s basketball team is: back row, left to right: Katie Wollan, Whitney Frazier, Alleigh Sexton, Sarah Cummings, Emily Nowak, Amy Nowak and Allison Burley; front row, left to right: Teonna Knapp, Lauren Seibert, Karina Hipkins, Sherri Smith, Courtanee Stieg and Ashleigh Monticello.
After recruiting taller players, Allen's team is now a good mix of size and quickness, which gives the Lumberjacks a lot of options depending on the team they're playing.
They'll get their first chance to show off their balanced lineup tonight when they play No. 12 Kalamazoo Valley at 6 p.m. at Park Arena in the East/West Classic. On Saturday, ACC will play Muskegon at 5:30 p.m.
Playing at home to start the year will should be a welcome change for the Lumberjacks, especially with eight freshman players getting their first taste of college basketball.
Alpena Community College
Last year: 12-17, 7th place in MCCAA Eastern Conference
Returning Players: 5
First game: tonight at 6 p.m. at home vs. Kalamazoo Valley in East/West Classic
"Last year my girls we wide-eyed because we were on the road, it was in Muskegon. My girls were wide-eyed. When you're on the road for your first game, you're going to be nervous," Allen said. "This year we've got a better shot because we're at home, the crowd will be for us and I think the girls know what we're doing."
At the forefront of ACC's group of returning players is 5-2 guard Lauren Seibert, who has emerged as a leader and mentor for the team and will likely be the Lumberjacks' floor general after bouncing back from a knee injury.
"I've got a healthy Lauren and it's going to be pretty exciting to see her lead this team," Allen said.
Guards Allison Burley, Sherri Smith, Courtanee Stieg and guard/forward Karena Hipkins are ACC's other returners.
The Lumberjacks will get a big doze of size from their group of eight freshmen, which will be crucial as ACC looks to fill the gap left by Kayla Weaver, who was a dominant inside player and rebounder the last two seasons.
Three players- 6-1 Sarah Cummings (Fairview), 6-0 Alleigh Sexton (Black River) and 5-11 Amy Nowak (Alcona) - as the team's centers.
Emily Nowak (Alcona) and Katie Wollan (Sault) are listed as forwards and Allen likes what he's seen from Wollan so far.
Ashleigh Monticello (Rapid River) and Teonna Knapp (Flint) are listed as guards and Allen said Monticello has not only been mentored by Seibert, but has also pushed her competitively.
Whitney Frazier (Brimley) could play guard or forward and Allen said he could pair Smith and Frazier together on the wings during games.
Though starters haven't been named, Allen said players are willing to help each other out and depending on how players perform, there could be all-sophomore or all-freshmen lineups starting.
Allen expects the Lumberjacks' first few games to be tough, but said it will be a good test for his team to compete against other top schools. With a lot of depth, he said the Lumberjacks could be a surprise team this season if things come together.
"I've got pieces that are coming in and I've got girls that got better. I'm really excited for this year," Allen said. "I think this year we're going to surprise a lot of people."