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UND women's basketball team plans to push pace

The UND women's basketball program has had a long history of dominant inside play. The Fighting Hawks still expect big things from their centers in 2016-17, but the unique skill set of the posts has UND thinking about altering its traditional style.

The UND women's basketball program has had a long history of dominant inside play.

The Fighting Hawks still expect big things from their centers in 2016-17, but the unique skill set of the posts has UND thinking about altering its traditional style.

With a group of versatile bigs, coach Travis Brewster is implementing a quicker tempo.

"It doesn't mean we change our thought process about how we work a shot clock," Brewster said. "It means we're trying to create easier opportunities."

UND's posts-6-foot-3 Samantha Roscoe, 6-foot Holly Johnson and 6-foot-2 Lexi Klabo-are inside-outside threats. That's a change from previous seasons when many of UND's center preferred to play with their backs to the basket.

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"We think it fits our personnel better," UND guard Makailah Dyer said Wednesday during the program's annual media day. "We're trying to get up and down and get some easy looks."

It's a new-look post game for the Fighting Hawks, although Roscoe (9.0 points per game) and Klabo (4.6 points per game) return with experience.

UND graduated three-time all-Big Sky Conference selection Mia Loyd, while 6-foot-6 junior college transfer Stephanie Smith left the team.

Johnson is a transfer from North Dakota State. The senior from Minot sat out all of last season with an injury.

When healthy, though, Johnson has been a proven scorer at the Division I level. The former North Dakota Miss Basketball winner has started 72 career college games and averaged 13.0 points per game as a sophomore and 12.2 points per game as a junior.

"I think there's a different level of expectation here to be better and be at the top of the conference," Johnson said. "The year off helped me in a way to grow as a person and improved my muscular and cardio endurance. I'm looking forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates. They've been great during this transition."

Johnson said she feels 100 percent recovered from the injury that forced her to miss the entire 2015-16 season at NDSU.

"I've had a great relationship with the trainer here," Johnson said. "She's helped me get through some nagging injuries this summer. Right now, I feel like this is the best preseason I've ever had."

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One of UND's strengths during its time in the Big Sky Conference has been its rebounding margin. Last year, UND outrebounded teams on average of 39.9 to 31.0.

The concern for this year will be replacing the rebounding production of Loyd (8.6) and Smith (4.8), the top two rebounders for UND from a year ago.

"We have to drill the fundamentals," Brewster said. "We need to understand it's a group effort. It's going to be a challenge."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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