Who's Back: Charae Richardson is the only returning starter from last season's 11-20 squad. The senior started 28 games and averaged 7.8 points in her first season with the Crusaders. Jessi Wiedemann leads a group of four other returners who are expected to play this season, while junior Jessica Carr and sophomore Sarah Godwin are expected to miss the season with injuries.
Who's New: Transfers Sharon Karungi (Northern Oklahoma) and Elizabeth Hamlet (Oakland) lead six newcomers to the program. Karungi had 23 points and 14 rebounds in Valparaiso's 89-62 exhibition victory over St. Joseph's on Tuesday night and the JUCO transfer looked right at home in the post. Hamlet started 25 games for the Golden Grizzlies last year and averaged 6.4 points per game. Freshmen guards Aliyah Issac and walk-on Faith Miller will be called on more as the season progresses. Transfers Annemarie Hamlet (Oakland) and Haylee Thompson (Utah State) must sit out the year.
Outlook: Second-year coach Tracey Dorow could've taken the easy route and filled her roster with JUCO transfers this season, but instead she chose to build a program over the long haul with several transfers. What that means for this season is that the already-shorthanded Crusaders will have little depth and a much smaller margin for error. Richardson, Hamlet and Liz Horton are the only seniors in the program and Horton is the only active player with more than one year of playing experience for the Crusaders. A brutal non-conference schedule will toughen up the team for the Horizon League, but the lack of bodies may catch up to Valparaiso late in the season. -- Paul Oren