LEWISBURG — With a fourth Patriot League championship title now in the rearview mirror, Bucknell women’s basketball has its sights set on a new season under fresh leadership for the first time in seven years.
Trevor Woodruff takes the reins of the program from longtime Coach Aaron Roussell, and the headman is looking to put his own stamp on Bucknell women’s basketball.
Woodruff brings a disciplined approach with a focus on fundamentals, a style of play that he’s brought to every institution in which he’s coached.
“We’ve had success playing this style of defense everywhere I’ve went,” Woodruff said. “A lot of people do it a lot of different ways and have success, but this is the way that we’re comfortable playing it.”
In addition to having success with a more disciplined style of play in the past, Woodruff likes how it fits the roster, which at 12 players is the smallest it’s been in the past 10 seasons.
“From a personnel stance, this fits us pretty well. I think because we’re somewhat shorthanded with only 11 scholarship players, foul trouble and things are an issue. So, this style should hopefully enable us to not foul as much as if we were more aggressive,” said Woodruff. “We’re trying to change habits, and that’s hard. It takes a long time. I think they see that there’s value in the way that we’re doing it and that it can work when done correctly.”
Woodruff’s most recently servedas the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Scranton, where he amassed a 113-10 record and four Landmark Conference championships in four seasons.
Assisting him will be Kelly Mazzante, a former Penn State standout and one of the best local players in history while at Montoursville High School, played seven seasons in the WNBA and won two titles with the Phoenix Mercury. Mazzante also played professionally in Slovakia, Russia, Hungary, and Italy.
Jim Reed, another local and a former Bucknell student-athlete, brings 27 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 14 seasons as the head coach of the Susquehanna women’s basketball team. Reed is in his second stint with Bucknell women’s basketball, having served as an assistant from 1998 to 2001.
Taylor Coleman served as an assistant on Woodruff’s staff at Scranton during the past two seasons, helping the Royals win back-to-back Landmark Conference titles. Coleman also spent four seasons as an assistant at the Division III level following a successful playing career at DeSales.
Woodruff and his coaching staff have been charged with replacing five seniors from the class of 2019, including three 1,000-point scorers.
Among the returning players that the team will lean on is All-Patriot League senior forward Ellie Mack, who started 32 contests last season. A major contributor to Bucknell’s championship season, Mack averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Her .498 field goal percentage was third-best in the Patriot League, and her .387 percentage from beyond the arc ranked sixth.
Fellow senior Gia Hayes also brings experience to a roster made up of over 40 percent underclassmen. Hayes appeared in 82 games during her first three seasons in Lewisburg and has proven to be a versatile asset at guard.
The junior class is the deepest for the Bison, with Tessa Brugler, Abby Kapp, Autumn Ceppi, and Ally Johnson all expected to see increased playing time this season. Kapp was a regular in the starting lineup last season and proved to be one of the best 3-point shooters in the league. Kapp made 74 shots from deep during the 2018-19 season, falling five shy of the school record. Kapp also ranked 10th in the nation in three-point percentage.
Johnson appeared in 33 games as a sophomore and sank 40.7 percent of her shots from beyond the arc. Johnson’s strong work ethic and consistency has been impressive during the offseason, and Woodruff expects her to play a major role in the rotation.Two of the Bison’s top post players come from the junior class in Brugler and Ceppi. Brugler, who was also voted a team captain during the offseason, averaged just 7.5 minutes last season, but is earning a bigger role through her work over the summer and the leadership she’s displayed in the locker room.
Rounding out the group is Ceppi. Also a 6-foot-1 forward, Ceppi is one of the best defensive players on the team. Ceppi averaged just under 15 minutes per game last season, making one start against Lafayette.
The returning sophomores consist of guards Marly Walls and Taylor O’Brien. Walls’ role changes significantly coming into the 2019-20 season, as she looks to become more of a leader at the point position with the graduation of Kyi English.
O’Brien is perhaps the most athletic of the bunch. A two-sport athlete, O’Brien holds the school record in the outdoor high jump. As a freshman, O’Brien averaged 5.6 points in 18 league games and had five games with double-digit points.
This year’s incoming freshman class is made up of forwards Carly Krsul and Emma Shaffer, as well as guard Tai Johnson.