The Simpson women's basketball team tips off the 2012-13 season Friday at the UW-Eau Claire Tip-Off Classic in at Zorn Arena in Eau Claire, Wis.
The Storm begin the tournament by facing UW-La Crosse at 6 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, Simpson faces the host UW-Eau Claire Blugolds in a rematch of last year's NCAA Tournament first round meeting, which Eau Claire won 69-61.
The Storm return four players who started 15 or more games from last year's 21-7 squad, which won a fifth-straight Iowa Conference championship and made an eighth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Simpson was picked second in the IIAC Preseason Coaches Poll with one first place vote, behind Coe's seven votes.
The Storm will rely heavily on the play of first team all-conference pick Kate Nielsen. The forward had a breakout season a year ago, leading the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Chelsie Rohrs returns for her senior season after transferring to Simpson from Wayne State prior to 2011-12. She started all 28 games a year ago, averaging 7.6 points per game as a shooting guard. She will serve as the team's outside threat after leading the team with 45 3-pointers last year.
Senior guards Kelsie Reeves and Nicole Crisp add even more experience on the outside for head coach Brian Niemuth's team. Reeves started 17 games at point guard and led the team with 84 assists. Crisp started 16 games after transferring from Mesa Community College and tied with Reeves for second on the team with 45 steals.
The most notable loss for the Storm in 2012-13 is three-time first team all-conference and All-American post Stacey Schutjer. The 6-2 Schutjer put up 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game a year ago.