There are going to be bumps in the road, but if the approach throughout the season is the same it has been during preseason practice the Maryville College women’s basketball team expects to have a lot of fun in the coming months.

The Scots will begin the regular season Friday night against Sewanee at the Agnes Scott Tipoff Classic in Decatur, Georgia. On Saturday, Maryville will take on Bob Jones.

Maryville brings back quality experience and has added a bright, energetic group of freshmen, which has the Scots excited to see what’s in store.

“I like how we’re so young,” said junior Klaire Varney, who led Maryville in scoring last season. “We have so much room to grow. Everybody is so coachable right now.”

The issues that faced Maryville at the beginning of the 2018-19 season are strengths this year. Last season’s strengths need work this season.

The Scots struggled to score last year, but coach Darrin Travillian said that could be a positive early this year. The biggest reason for that, he said, is the chemistry is already at a high level.

“We have a lot of different people who can score from different areas, but their willingness to find each other in those areas has been impressive,” Travillian said. “That part has surprised me. I wouldn’t have thought it would be at the top of the list at this point.”

Defense and rebounding, on the other hand, need to improve in a hurry. The learning curve for the freshmen is steep because they’re learning new vocabulary and new defensive principles. In many other cases, the freshmen would take a back seat and learn the college game before being thrust into big roles.

With six freshmen on the 12-player roster, however, the Scots don’t have that luxury.

“They have to learn and play,” Travillian said. “That’s a little bit of a challenge.”

The freshmen include local players Courtney Carruthers (Maryville High School), Abbi Joseph (William Blount), Madison Powers (Greenback) and Kaylee Collier (Seymour).

The newcomers join a strong group of returning players led by Varney, senior Libby Gardner and junior Elsa Eckenrod – all of whom were regular starters last season. Another key contributor – senior Kelley Wandell – will join the team after volleyball season.

Eventually the Scots hope to have a well-oiled machine that can contend for a USA South Athletic Conference championship. There is a long way to go before then, however, and with so many new players it won’t look perfect along the way.

Varney said that’s fine because the high potential is unmistakable.

“It’s tough at times since you know the drills and you know the expectations, it’s easy to get frustrated if (the freshmen) mess up, but you have to think that they’re new and they’re learning,” she said. “You have to be patient with them and coach them through the drills. They’ll get there with you as long as you guide them along the way.”

Follow @RipSports on Twitter to get more from sports editor Corey Roepken.

Sports Editor

Corey is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and spent six years at The Houston Chronicle before joining The Daily Times in the summer of 2018.

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