Most every college basketball coach for every team is busy setting goals for their team to reach in the upcoming season. Most include a certain number of wins and conference and national championships. For Chanda Stebbins, beginning her 18th year as head coach of the Saints, it's not complicated.
"I think for our program it is so important to get better each day," said Head Coach Chanda Stebbins. "We really focus on player development from a week to week standpoint.
Coming off a 17-11 overall record and their third consecutive FCSAA State/regional tournament appearance, the Saints will begin the 2018-19 season when they host 2018 national tournament participant and pre-season national ranked #11 South Georgia Tech at 7:00 pm on Thursday evening.
"We are excited to host SGT," said Stebbins. "Coach Frey has historically run a great program. I know we will face tough guard play and solid post production right away from SGT. "
Six returners and seven newcomers make up a balanced Saints roster that will be without the services of sophomore Stephanie Jackson who will miss the beginning of the season with an injury. Jackson was the Saints leading scorer last year averaging 14.8 ppg. while earning First Team All-Mid Florida Conference honors as well as being named to the FCSAA All-State Team.
"The key for us is to always be versatile enough to adjust. Injuries are part of basketball and fortunately SJ will be back soon so our job in the meantime is to fill in for what she brings us," said Stebbins. "Any time a player is out (injuries, foul trouble, etc) it is a great opportunity for the next person to step up."
Law recorded four games with 20+ points last year including 20 in 38 minutes of play in the Saints 79-75 season ending loss to Southwestern Florida State College at the FCSAA State Tournament, an effort that earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Fournier originally committed Auburn Montgomery where former Saints Evelina Avleeva also plays for this year, but chose to return to SF after a coaching change for the Warhawks. As a freshman for the Saints, the guard scored in double figures for 15 games including a high of 29 against Hillsborough.
"Janasia and Julie both continue to really grow as players and I am excited to have them back." Said Stebbins. "Julie is becoming a well-rounded player and Janasia will impress people this year with her scoring ability not just her passing ability."
Newcomers expected to contribute to the Saints success include Airneisha Gamble, a Gainesville native and a point guard who graduated from The Rock and transferred from Winthrop University to SF this year.
"So excited to have Nene join us this year." Said Stebbins "We have watched her for years and we were happy for her when she qualified and signed with Winthrop, but we are super excited to have her back in Gainesville for a year. Fans will enjoy watching her just like they did when she was Buchholz and The Rock."
The Saints pre-conference schedule will include a matchup against FSWS on a neutral floor at the College of Central Florida on Nov. 9th and a trip to the Capital City to take on defending National Champions Tallahassee CC on Nov. 20th.
"We have always appreciated the strength of Region 8," said Stebbins. With the national champion coming from our region each of the last four years it makes for a strong pre-conference schedule. I look forward to seeing how our team will grow by facing pre-season top 25 teams like SGT, FLSW, and Tallahassee.