The Youngstown State women's basketball team will hold its first official practice of the 2014-15 season Monday morning as it prepares to integrate seven freshmen for their first taste of Division I basketball.
The Penguins open the season on Nov. 15 against Niagara, and they will have 40 days between Monday's first practice and the start of the second season under head coach John Barnes. The first practice will start at 5:30 a.m., but the Penguins will have a general practice window of 2-4:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday of each week.
Youngstown State enters preseason workouts with 13 student-athletes on its roster, and only five of those appeared in a game in 2013-14. First-Team All-Horizon League forward Heidi Schlegel returns for her senior year after averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds last season, and she'll be joined in the frontcourt by fellow senior Latisha Walker. The juniors are guards Ashley Lawson and Janae Jackson, who hasn't played since 2011-12 when she was a true freshman at Northern Illinois. Guard Jenna Hirsch, a Horizon League All-Freshman Team selection last year, and forward Kelsea Newman are the only other returning players on the roster. Schlegel started all 31 games in 2013-14, while Walker and Hirsch started 22 apiece.
The group of seven freshmen comes in with impressive accolades with four of them earning first-team all-state honors. Nikki Arbanas, Indiya Benjamin, Krista Pietropola and Kelley Wright are uards, and Sarah Cash, Ashley Kirila and Morgan Olson are forwards.