Date Posted:11/18/2004,  5:00PM

2004-05 Women's Basketball Season Preview

Head Coach: Stefanie Pemper (6 years, 134-31, .812)

Leading Returners: Eileen Flaherty (10.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Justine Pouravelis (7.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.5 bpg), Alison Smith (5.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Erika Nickerson (7.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg), Vanessa Russell (5.6 ppg, 2.8 apg)

Key Losses: Lora Trenkle (13.9 ppg, 4.0 apg), Lindsay Bramwell, Kristina Fugate, Courtney Trotta, Beth Damon

Newcomers: Marisa Berne, Amanda Leahy

2003 RECAP: Under normal circumstances, a 30-1 campaign would be considered an unmitigated success for a college basketball team. But the 2003-04 Bowdoin women's basketball team was truly extraordinary squad. 30 straight victories followed by a loss in the NCAA title game left a sour taste at the conclusion of an incredibly successful season. The team grabbed the first-ever number-one ranking in the history of the program and won their fourth straight NESCAC Championship. The Polar Bears extended the nation's longest winning streak to 44 games and reached their first Final Four. 2004 PREVIEW: The Polar Bears will look to defend their NESCAC Championship and return to the NCAA Tournament with one of the toughest schedules in the country. The NESCAC, as always, will provide a tough test for Bowdoin as will a non-conference slate that includes in-state rival Southern Maine (in Brunswick, Nov. 30). The Polar Bears will open their season on Friday, November 19 at the University of Rochester Tournament against the College of New Jersey and will travel to play in a tournament in Arkansas over the holiday break.

Bowdoin returns four of five starters in Vanessa Russell, Eileen Flaherty, Justine Pouravelis and Alison Smith in addition to top reserve player Erika Nickerson. Flaherty will look to improve on her NESCAC Rookie of the Year season, while Pouravelis fills the stat sheet in nearly every category.

Katie Cummings will look to run the show from the point guard position this season with guards Julia Loonin, Lauren Withey and Ashleigh Watson all a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Marisa Berne and Amanda Leahy come to the team after successful high school careers and with guard-like skills in six-foot frames, will pose match-up problems for opponents.

DID YOU KNOW: Junior Justine Pouravelis, the 2004 NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, became the first player in Bowdoin basketball history to rack up at least 70 blocks and 70 steals in a single season, swatting 77 shots and swiping 76 steals in 2003 -04.

COACH PEMPER SAYS: "Lora (Trenkle) was the total package, no question about it; but I've said all along that this year's team has as much talent as last year's. Like all teams we need a great defensive effort and we need people to step up and score the basketball. The thing I'm the most pleased with is our practice intensity, our selflessness, and our camaraderie. Alison Smith and Erika Nickerson have set the bar for our team and have practiced the same way and for three years. I've looked forward to the day where those two led our team. The team's camaraderie and selflessness this early in the season i could have never predicted. I really enjoy working with this group."