The leaves have begun to change and the temperature outside has been chilled which as always represents a new birth to the 2011-12 Bethel College women's basketball team. Despite the loss of several quality seniors from last year’s team, the team returns a surprising amount of upperclassmen and look to surprise teams with their amount of experience. With pre-season scrimmages right around the corner head coach, Jody Martinez hopes that the team will be able to find unity as there are still several new faces to this team. Last season, the team battled hard all season and finished 8-8 in the MCC while receiving votes. In addition, the team was able to claim its second straight NCCAA National Tournament title. However, with new leadership, freshmen, and transfers added to this year’s team it will be a much different Lady Pilot basketball team. According to Coach Martinez, he believes that the returners from last year’s team will have to adapt to a new style of play with so many newcomers. “We will need to find our niche with this group mixed in with a very talented freshmen class and transfers,” added Martinez. Because there is so much uncertainty as to how this team will perform come season time, the Lady Pilots were picked seventh in the preseason Coaches’ poll. “I don’t really care about preseason rankings but I do hope that my team uses this ranking as a motivational tool as we head into MCC play,” said Martinez. “I believe that we are a top 4 team in the MCC with the talent to win the conference.” Although the team is ready to begin competing and proving themselves, there has been a lot of hard work put in by many ladies during the off-season. Martinez noted that it is because of this that the pre-season practices have gone so well and that the returning players’ competitive nature has created an intense atmosphere. This time can be very crucial with so many open spots and first year players trying to prove their worth. This Friday Oct. 21 will be the Lady Pilots first scrimmage as they take on Holy Cross at home. Martinez said that he is looking forward to this event because he is anxious to how the team will respond in certain situations such as committing errors. He also noted that this allows the team to exercise a lot of trial and error. “We have 3 scrimmages in 5 days so this will be a good test for us,” said Martinez.