Gabbie Bohl and the University of Mary say its first action of the 2018-19 season Thursday against South Dakota State at Frost Arena.
The Marauders surrendered a 77-46 loss but a lot of players got some meaningful playing time against a Jackrabbits team that was picked to win the Summit League.
UMary had its final exhibition contest Monday evening against Concordia College (Minn.) and dominated 67-24 before they open up the season on Nov. 14 against Yellowstone Christian College.
“Our team has high expectations to be great this year,” Bohl said a few days after being named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Preseason Player of the Year said.
“The NSIC is a very competitive conference, so every night will be competitive. That’s why this conference is so fun to play in.”
The Marauders were picked to finish sixth in the preseason coaches’ poll and received one first-place vote but Bohl who averaged 18 points per game, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks believes UMary can finish higher.
“I think we are better than 6th overall,” Bohl admitted. “I hope we can reach the top by the end of the season and (be) playing for the NSIC championship.”
Rick Neumann’s squad finished 13-16 (9-13 North) last season after back-to-back years with 15 wins but UMary brings back its Top 3 scorers and four of its five starters.
However, Neumann is going to have a young bench as 12 of his 17 players are underclassmen.
“Our freshmen coming in are very talented and are quick learners,” Bohl said. “Practices are running very smoothly and they are playing like they have been in the program before so that’s been really exciting.”
This offseason Bohl worked on putting on “more healthy weight” because towards the tail end of the 2017-18 season she felt more tired and weaker.
The junior forward has been consistent at the free throw line during the last two years but her free throw percentage will hopefully improve this year. Bohl is coming off a 68.7 percent free throw performance and made 68.4 percent of the charity stripe shots her freshman season.
Receiving such a high honor before the season starts, Bohl is very humbled and she’s ready to focus on helping the Marauders improve from last season.
It’s an awesome recognition,” she added, “because our conference has a lot of talented players that are just as deserving.”
“There really isn’t a lot of pressure for the fact I don’t think about the honor as a target on my back. It’s more of a motivation to continue to work hard and put in the extra time to be better than the day before.”
The Marauders will have two home games next week before heading to the Western Washington Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 23-24.
UMary will open up NSIC play at 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 against in-state rival Minot State.