Women's basketball may have been the most successful sport at Haskell Indian Nations University last year.
Women's basketball may be even better this season.
HINU women's coach Phil Homeratha has practically everyone back from a team that finished 18-7 last year.
"We're as deep and have the best talent of the three years I've been here," Homeratha said.
Haskell's leading returnee is Robin Shield, a 5-foot-9 guard from Lodge Grass, Mont., who led the Indians with a 14.5 scoring average in 1997-98 and was an All-Region Six NJCAA Div. II selection.
Also back is second-team all-league selection Eve Robichaud, a 5-8 forward who averaged 8.7 points game.
Two more sophomores -- 5-foot-9 Mitzi Horn and 6-0 Marinda Lamon -- will also start with 5-7 Devon Townsend and 5-7 Tamy Hammer, two more sophs, battling for the other starting job. Still another soph, 5-8 Shelby Palmer, looms as the Indians' No. 7 player.
Three freshmen figure to push for playing time -- point guard Toni Stanger and forwards Melissa Mossett and Ra'el Augare.
"Right now we're about 14 deep," Homeratha said. "I think we have a little more talent than we had last year, but I don't think we have the team speed."
Haskell's women will play in the Penn Valley Classic in Kansas City, Mo., this weekend. They'll play MidAmerica Nazarene JV at 1 p.m. today and Avila JV at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Haskell's men's team will also open today. The Indians will travel to the Highland CC Classic, tangling with Marshalltown Iowa CC tonight and North Iowa Area CC on Saturday. Coach Al Gipp's team struggled to a 7-19 record last season.
Jeremiah Rector, who led the Indians in scoring last season by averaging about 20 points a game, returns as do Eli Williams, Brandon Williams and Anthony Falcon. Rector was a first-team all-region selection last year.
Also back after missing last season with an ankle injury is Aaron Whitebread. Two other players who should help are cousins Ryan LeBeau and Rocklin LeBeau.
Ryan LeBeau, who stands 6-foot-6, is a transfer from Minnesota-Morris. Gipp is also high on 6-7 newcomer Ted Chesiark.
Lawrence High product Justin Daney is also in the picture. Daney averaged only 1.0 points per game for the Lions last year, but Gipp believes the 6-3 Daney will help.
"Over the summer, he got a lot stronger," Gipp said.