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New era for women’s basketball

The Northeastern women’s basketball team will tip off the 2014-2015 season against crosstown rival Boston University on Friday at noon at the Cabot Center. But the game won’t only represent the Huskies’ first contest of the new campaign. It will also mark the start of Kelly Cole’s tenure as the team’s new head coach, the sixth in program history.

Cole noted that she is pleased with the team’s preseason preparations, adding that the veterans have embraced the changes the new coaching staff has incorporated into the program, everything from how the team works together on defense to how the players pivot. The Huskies will return four starters from last season and feature nine upperclassmen.

“They have bought into the things we are asking them to do,” Cole said. “We’ve got a great core on this team. The connection these players have as a team is going to be a huge bonus for us as we go forward.”

The Huskies are coming off a 12-18 campaign in which the team finished seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association conference and lost in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament to Delaware. The coach’s preseason poll has picked the Huskies to once against finish seventh.

“We as a program want to be in the top half of the conference, finish with a winning record, and make a push for a CAA championship,” Cole said of her team’s expectations. “We still have a lot of learning to do, but what we have done thus far makes anything within our grasp.”

Senior guard Amencie Mercier praised the coaching staff and her teammates for developing such a strong relationship in short order. “I look forward to going to practice and having a lot of fun with my teammates,” she said. “I feel like we have a very promising season ahead of us because we are all so excited.”

On offense, Cole expects the team to strike a good balance between its perimeter shooting and its production in the paint. In order to be successful, the Huskies will have to depend on big contributions from senior guard A’lece Mark, who was named to the preseason all-CAA first team. Last season she averaged 15 points per game and collected 37 steals in 21 appearances, good for third most on the team.

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