Flyers go into exhibition with high expectations

Sophomore guard Andrea Hoover is the lone returning starter for the University of Dayton women’s basketball team, but that doesn’t mean she’ll have to carry more of the scoring load because of the Flyers’ inexperience.

She sees an abundance of reliable returnees and promising newcomers ready to take on prominent roles in place of graduating stalwarts Justine Raterman, Casey Nance, Patrice Lalor and Elle Queen, who combined for 427 career starts.

“We have a lot of athletic ability and hard workers,” Hoover said. “We’re a lot different than last year. I think we bring a new type of skill to the team this year, and I think people will be surprised.

“We lost a lot of great seniors, but we don’t really consider this a rebuilding year. We’re going to pick up where we left off and try to win another Atlantic 10 championship.”

The A-10 coaches thought enough of the Flyers to make them the preseason conference favorite, and fans can get a glimpse of the next wave of talent in the program during an exhibition game against Division II Ashland at 5 p.m. Saturday at UD Arena.

Hoover was the A-10 rookie of the year last season and was named first-team preseason all-conference, while sophomore forward Ally Malott was a second-team selection.

Coach Jim Jabir, who is starting his 10th year, also will be counting on contributions from senior forward Olivia Applewhite and junior center Cassie Sant.

“(Malott) is a different kid. It feels like she’s more confident in her ability. She’s going to do a lot more things for us,” Jabir said. “She’s more assertive on offense. It’s a word we use a lot — we want her to be assertive. And she is. She’s a lot looser, she’s having more fun. We’re pleased with Ally and her development.

“The same thing with Sant. She’s more confident and doing more things. Those are two kids that really improved a lot. And Olivia Applewhite has shown more maturity and is handling things in a better way. I’ve been pleased with those guys.”

Hoover averaged 10 points, five rebounds and two assists while helping the Flyers to their third straight NCAA tournament appearance last season.

“I think she’s the kind of kid who is always going to be a gamer, always going to show up,” Jabir said. “She’s got a toughness about her. I’ve got no worries about her. She’s going to show up and do what she’s got to do.”

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