Amber Williams can be excused if it feels like a new basketball experience at Cal State Bakersfield this season.
A senior guard from Fontana who has started since her freshman season, Williams has moved back to her more comfortable shooting guard position and the depth on this season's team will hopefully relieve some pressure.
That's a far cry from last season, when a slew of injuries had the Roadrunners down to seven players for much of the year.
"At first we blamed it on the new blue floor," Williams said of the injuries that struck down five of her teammates. "We had to even get a volleyball player we were so low on players. My knees were really hurting. I was trying to play through everything considering the number of people we had."
CSUB finished 7-22, the fewest wins in a season in the program's history.
The 2012-13 season open Monday when CSUB plays host to Fresno Pacific in an exhibition game at the Icardo Center starting at 7 p.m.
The season opener is Friday, another home game, against Pac-12 member Arizona. That game, part of a doubleheader with the men's team, begins at 8:30 p.m. with the men's game vs. Texas-Arlington at 6 p.m.
Williams played in 27 of CSUB’s 29 games last season and ranked fourth on the team with a 12.5 scoring average.
As she prepares for her final CSUB season, Williams has taken her preparation to a new level, coach Greg McCall said.
“She came back in tremendous shape — the best shape she’s been in the four years she’s been here,” McCall said.
Williams added, “I felt last year was not my best.
My knees bothered me. I couldn’t run as hard as I wanted.
“Over the summer I did a lot of therapy. I worked with trainers back home. I wanted to make sure I was on top of my game my last year. I want to leave a legacy here.”
Williams has already left her imprint on the program.
She’s the first player in the program’s history to score 1,000 points at the Division I level and she holds the school record for a single game with eight 3-pointers against Cal State Northridge when she was a freshman.
She ranks fifth in career points (1,136), third in 3-pointers (149) and ninth in games played (90).
It was McCall, then an assistant coach under then-head coach Tim La Kose, who recruited Williams to CSUB.
McCall said he saw several attributes in Williams’ game he thought would translate well to the Division I level.
“Her knowledge of the game,” McCall said. “She was able to do a lot of things with a basketball that’s hard for girls to duplicate. Ballhandling, shooting, passing, defense — she has it all.
“It’s going to be scary. She’s primed for her best year.”
This season, Williams and the other women’s basketball outside shooters around the country will compete with a 3-point line that is farther from the basket, about a foot beyond the old line to match the men’s distance that took effect last season.
“I love shooting 3s,” she said. “(The new distance) really doesn’t make that much difference to me. I usually am a couple of steps behind the line anyway.
Williams had the option of sitting out this season as a redshirt, which would enable her to play next season when the Roadrunners join the Western Athletic Conference.
Williams admitted she thought about that.
“But I want to play so bad,” she said.
Williams came to CSUB after a stellar career at Etiwanda High, where she helped her team win three straight league titles and was her league’s MVP twice.
She said she chose CSUB over San Jose State, Cal State Dominguez Hills, Pepperdine and Dartmouth.
“When I made my visit, it seemed like it took forever to get here,” she said. “I liked the team and the coaches, and the campus is small and the classes are small. I like that.
“I’ve met a lot of people. When I walk to class I’ll see five people I know.”
Williams was a business major when she enrolled but has switched to English. She is on pace to graduate in the spring.