Paula Dahl is used to her teams looking unfamiliar to her at the start of a new season.
Well over two decades into her run as the Bakersfield College women's basketball coach, Dahl isn't thrown off by situations like the one she's facing entering the 2019-20 season, as just two players return from a year ago.
“This is year 26 and this is just the reality of what we have at this level," she said. "You never have the same team from one year to the next. There’s always adjustments, always changes. You never know what’s going to happen."
One thing Dahl is counting on is the continued growth of sophomore forward Dasia Wandick. The Independence product was an inside force for the Renegades during an all-conference freshman season, in which she averaged a team-best 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds.
With so many new pieces, Wandick and fellow sophomore forward Ja'Nece Green are doing everything they can to make the inexperienced players feel comfortable against a higher brand of competition.
“It’s definitely a new feel because we have to re-learn how to play with new members," Wandick said. "We have to learn how to develop their game with ours.”
Perhaps the biggest adjustment the Renegades are dealing with is a lack of size. With no player taller than 5-foot-9, Dahl is hoping to rely on speed and a tenacious full-court press to create turnovers that will lead to uncontested looks at the other end.
“We have a lot of people that can create a lot of havoc on our press," Dahl said. "We’re hoping that we’ll be able to generate a lot of layups out of that and create a lot of things. It’s been a few years since we’ve really ran the way I want to run. So we’re hoping we’ll really embrace that and make it happen.”
Guard Felicia Chacon, a Shafter grad, is one player Dahl expects to play a key role in generating pressure in the backcourt.
Liberty alum Perla Almaguer is expected to aid Wandick and Green inside, while Emily Gonzalez and Brianna Green hope to give a jolt on the perimeter for a team that finished last in the Western State Conference in both 3-point makes (94) and percentage (22) last season.
Coming off an 8-17 finish, including a 1-5 mark in the WSC, Dahl isn't worried if outside expectations of her team aren't high. In fact, she welcomes such skepticism.
“We don’t pass the eye test at all. And I’m OK with that," she said. "I think we’re going to surprise a ton of people. And our goal is, when (our opponents) walk off the floor, they go ‘oh, crud’ and that they had to battle for everything.”
The Renegades open the year at the Bakersfield Crossover Tournament this weekend. They face Riverside at 7 p.m. Friday and Pasadena City at 5 p.m. Saturday.