After last year’s 11-7 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference record (12-17 overall) the women’s basketball team is rejuvenated and ready to meet its goals.

“We finished third in the conference last year,” said head coach Debra Clark. “Each year I want to do better and advance farther in the conference tournament.”

The Lady Rattlers, who featured five freshmen last year, are more experienced after a season of playing together and learning Clark’s scheme. The entire roster has experience playing college basketball either on the NCAA level or on the junior college level.

The team has one of the league’s best duos in 6-foot-3-inch center Kim Watson and 5-foot-6-inch guard Yolanda Dixon. Both seniors were selected for the preseason All-MEAC team.

“The biggest difference from last year’s team will be experience and depth,” Clark said. “We have three new, experienced players that will make a positive impact on the team.”

Watson, last year’s MEAC Player of the Year, is excited about achieving team and personal goals this season.

“I want to win the MEAC championship and go the NCAA tournament,” Watson said. “I also want to be MEAC Player of the Year again.”

Last season Watson led the conference in rebounding (10.0 rpg) and led the team in scoring with 17.7 points per game.

Joining the Lady Rattlers this season are Elana Greene, a 6-foot-1-inch forward/center from Manhattan College, Quidara Russell, a 6-foot guard/forward from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Ariel Towns, a 6-foot forward from Pasadena Community College.

The new players have been a welcomed addition to the team.

“We came close to winning the conference tournament last year,” Dixon said. “We’re more complete this year with the new players on our team.”

Dixon, who was selected for the All-MEAC second team last year after averaging 14.1 points per game, said the team appreciates having Watson on their side.

“Everyone converges on her, which opens things up for me and the rest of the team,” Dixon said.

Clark emphasized fan support at home games as the key to their success.

The Lady Rattlers compete right before the men’s team plays and the men’s game normally draws a much larger crowd. Some fans come just in time to cheer at the end of the women’s game.

“You can’t overemphasize the importance of the home crowd. If we get that same energy at the beginning of the game that we get at the end, it’ll definitely help,” Clark said.

FAMU was picked to finish third in the conference and their first game is Nov. 23 at Ohio State. The ladies have an exhibition game Thursday against Fort Valley State.