WINCHESTER — At this time, the Umpqua Community College women’s basketball team is an unproven quality.
“So many question marks,” said Dave Stricklin, in his 27th season as the Riverhawks’ head coach. “I like the group we have. I think we have all the pieces, but have to figure out how to put the pieces together.”
Umpqua has three returning players from last spring’s squad that finished 6-7 overall during the COVID-abbreviated season.
Jalen Robles, Leiani Tonga and Delfina Misiuna didn’t lose a year of eligibility due to the pandemic, so they’re still listed as freshman. For the first time in his UCC coaching reign, Stricklin’s 14-player roster will consist entirely of freshmen.
“This group is team-oriented. They work extremely hard and put a lot of extra time in,” Stricklin said. “There aren’t a ton of egos, so I’m excited to see what can happen.
“I probably won’t know until the middle of December, then I’ll have a good idea where we are and what we need to do.”
The Riverhawks open their season on Saturday at home against the University of Oregon Club Team. Tipoff is set for noon.
Stricklin learned a little bit more about his team during its second scrimmage of the fall Wednesday against the UO Club Team in Eugene.
“(The scrimmage) was exactly what we needed,” the coach said. “We played everybody and tried different combinations.”
The 5-foot-7 Robles, a former Roseburg High School standout, will be counted on for leadership and is one of Umpqua’s point guards. She averaged 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season, but Stricklin expects her to carry a bigger load offensively.
“I feel Jalen can have a great year,” Stricklin said. “We’ll play her primarily at the point, but she’s arguably our best shooter as well.”
Tonga, a 5-11 forward, averaged 9.8 points and 8.8 rebounds in her first season with UCC. Misiuna, a 6-2 left-handed post, averaged 6.4 points and 7.9 rebounds.
“We need leadership from both of them,” Stricklin said. “Del can score inside, and Leiani is able to play inside and outside.”
The recruiting class includes Imagin Flores, Hannah Nelzen, Amaia Ramon, Sierra Fitzhugh, Victoria Hollingshead, Shielteal Watah, Areeza Amian, Heaven McDonald, Sarah Sowell, Eliza Swallow and Vitoria Marocci.
Two other recruits, Sutherlin High graduates Jadyn Vermillion and Amy Dickover, decided not to play basketball this season.
Stricklin said Hollingshead, Fitzhugh and Flores are all dealing with foot injuries and won’t play this weekend. Fitzhugh is from Brookings.
The Riverhawks are scheduled to play in the Clackamas Thanksgiving Invitational Nov. 26-28 in Oregon City.