It starts with point guard Aralee Smith (above), who started her basketball career as a Bengal, then transferred back home to Southern Arkansas. Smith, who is listed as a senior, is back in Pocatello, where she will redshirt this season. Smith played in 23 games with ISU as a freshman in 2006-2007, averaging 9 minutes and 3 points a game. She shot 44 percent from the floor, including 38 percent from three-point range. The next season she played only four games before suffering a knee injury, then transferred to Southern Arkansas, where she averaged 7.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game.
Other new names include Rayneiqua Edwards, a 5-8 guard from Freeport, Illinois who played one year at Spokane Falls Community College, and Mietra Smollack, a 5-9 guard who transferred from Washington State and will redshirt this season. Edwards has only played one season of basketball since graduating from Freeport High School in 2005, where she averaged 11 points and 3 assists a game. My broadcast partner, Mark Liptak, tells me she's quite athletic and is just an inch or two short of the team record for best vertical jump. She high jumped 5-7 in high school. She's still getting initiated into the nuances of Sobolewski's motion offense, but that athleticism might get her a few minutes of playing time.
Smollack, meanwhile, competed in track and field at Wazzu, where she finished eighth in the 800 meters in the PAC-10 indoor championships. She was a first-team all-league basketball player her senior year at Oak Harbor, Wash. High School, as well as being a track standout.
Liptak also tells me scholarship newcomer Ashlee Rigter, a 6-3 F from New Zealand, suffered an injury over the summer and will not be available at the start of the season. A decision on whether she'll redshirt will be made later.
ISU athletic director Jeff Tingey attended the Big Sky Conference meetings in Ogden last week and came back with some good news -- the conference athletic directors voted 5-4 to move the conference in-door track championships to Pocatello permanently. The proposal now goes to the league presidents for final approval.
Moving the championships to Pocatello permanently would give the Bengal men and women's teams a slight "home track" edge. It would also give the local restaurants and hotels a little bump, as well.
Tingey was also successful in convincing the league ADs to lift the recently-imposed limit on the size of travelling parties for basketball teams when they bus to games. This would allow ISU's men's team, for example, to take its full roster to non-conference games against Utah, Utah State and BYU.
And thanks for being a Bengal fan -- it ain't always easy, but it's always fun.