DAVENPORT — One quick snippet of conversation from Monday's media day festivities says a lot about the season the St. Ambrose University women's basketball team is looking forward to having.
SAU coach Krista Van Hauen: "If we stay healthy this year, it's going to be a fun year."
Intrepid reporter: "How much fun?"
Van Hauen: "Really fun."
A huge smile and knowing chuckle from the fourth-year coach followed.
Yes, it could be one of those seasons for the Queen Bees. It seems as if all the pieces are there for them to not only have a great Midwest Collegiate Conference season but a solid post-season run as well.
The potential isn't even enough to stop the players from thinking ahead a bit at what can get done.
"'Can' is a big word in everyone's vocabulary right now," said senior guard Ashley Dexter, who is looking forward to rejoining her teammates after the soccer season ends. "I think that 'can' will just need to be proven in the first couple of weeks."
"I believe we can accomplish the MCC championship, for sure, and a trip to nationals," said shooting threat Lauren Cash. "I believe we can make a really good run there."
Keeping the focus on the details and not getting caught up in the what-ifs could be one of the most critical aspects of the Queen Bees season. With expectations so high on long-range goals, they can't afford to lose sight of the process.
"That is in the back of my mind," Van Hauen said of keeping her players in the present each day. "We've scrimmaged four teams this preseason and the closest game has been 17 points. It scares me as a coach that we are going to look ahead too much. We keep preaching every single day that we have to get better at the little details. They realize that, though."
Van Hauen said rotations are nowhere close to being figured out and may not get figured out. She says there is plenty of versatility – and talent up and down the 20-player roster – that starters and rotations could be fluid all season.
A couple of players who will be seeing plenty of time, though, are guards Cash and Dexter. Cash (5-7, Sr., Pekin HS) led SAU's offense last season with 481 points (15.5 ppg average), and Dexter (5-4, Sr, North Scott HS) sparked the tempo of a team that likes to go all out most of the time.
Other backcourt players to factor in the mix are returners Nora Masterson (5-3, Sr., La Grange Park, Ill.), Sydney Greiner (5-9, Soph, Washington, Iowa) and Shelby Steger (5-6, Jr., Kewanee Wethersfield HS). Freshman Brette Logic (5-6, Racine, Wis.) also is vying for playing time.
The well-stocked front-court includes returners Katie Jensen (5-11, Jr., Lena-Winslow HS, who averaged 11.2 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game last season), Rachel Hinebaugh (5-10, Soph, Ottumwa, Iowa), Lauren Brummel (6-1, Soph., Somonauk, Ill.) and Devan Griffin (6-foot, Soph, Geneseo HS).
Adding to the front-court strength is junior transfer Annaka Olson (6-3, Jr., Janesville, Minn., via Ellsworth CC).
"She's a 6-foot-3 post who fulfills a need," Van Hauen said of Olson. "We have five strong posts. It's pretty obvious that when we substitute, we don't fall off very quickly. That's a benefit to us; how do you defend that? A lot of conference schools have one or two good posts."
The way things are shaping up for the Queen Bees this season, other conference schools may not have enough of anything to handle Van Hauen's club.
And that could it make it real fun this winter for the Queen Bees.
Today is Wednesday, March 12, the 71st day of 2014. There are 294 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Soldiers from the barracks on the Arsenal manage to elude the vigilance of the guard nearly every day and come to town armed. In the hands of excited and perhaps intoxicated men, these weapons are dangerous. 1889 -- 125 years ago: Manufacturing's merchants and professional men of Moline were petitioning the Western Union Telegraph company to establish a telegraph office in the business area of the city. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Three Rock Island students, the Misses Eleanor Cleaveland, Dorothy McCabe and Ruth West, escaped injury when fire destroyed College Hall at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War gave a party for William H. Stremmel, the only survivor of John Buford Post 243, GAR. 1964 -- 50 years ago: The East Moline Grade School Board of Education last night granted salary increases totaling about $47,000 to teachers and staff members. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Five champion spellers from the Rock Island/Milan School district were selected after competition this week at Modern Woodmen of America. Winners are Sarah Cottay, Christopher Gilbrich, Jared Vogele, Kedric Roper and Kenny Stevenson.