NEW YORK — The Columbia women’s basketball team took the floor of Levien Gymnasium for its first official practice of the 2017-18 season earlier this week. Columbia’s first game is a little more than five weeks away, November 10, at Providence.

The Lions are under the direction of second-year head coach Megan Griffith ‘07CC, who guided the Lions to 13 wins her first season. This year’s team consists of three seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and four first-years. The senior class of Jillian Borreson, Paige Tippet and Camille Zimmerman were voted team captains.

“Having the team back on campus in preseason is great – there is a ton of energy,” said Griffith before the team stepped on the practice floor Monday. “We’re ready to get after it and get going. One of the biggest things I want to work on is getting this team to play hard all the time, which is something that is really hard to do. We need to not take possessions off, which will make us better from the start.”

Griffith guided the program to its best non-conference record in program history (10-3) her first season, but will prepare the Lions for a much tougher set of non-conference opponents this go around. Five of this season’s non-conference opponents are coming off NCAA Tournament appearances, which include Arizona State, Hampton, Green Bay, Quinnipiac and defending national runner-up, Mississippi State.

“We need to be battle tested going into the Ivy League,” Griffith went on to say. “We compete at a very high level with the pinnacle of mid-major basketball. It was nice to win all those games in last year’s non-conference schedule, but we didn’t’ build good habits and it didn’t do us any service. This year, the hope is we get beat up a little bit, fight back, learn how to win some challenging games and go into the Ivy League season feeling really good about where we are.”

Griffith’s staff includes returning assistant coach Tyler Cordell, as well as new assistants Greg Rosnick and Kerry Connolly. Meghan Roxas returns in a new position of Director of Basketball Operations after serving as one of last year’s graduate team managers.

“With new faces and new people there is always going to be a change, but the most important thing about this change is the great energy that came along with it,” Griffith added. “Everyone on this staff is dedicated to the craft. They want to make us better and make me better as a head coach.”

Other new faces include first-years Riley Casey, Andrea McCormick, Madison Pack and Imani Whittington. Columbia’s team captains are already impressed with what they have seen.”

“The freshmen are great – they have a lot of energy and personality,” said Borreson, who was voted one of Columbia’s team captains for the first time. “I really appreciate their willingness to learn and how eager they are to be around the team. They are already building team chemistry off the court, which is really important to us, and are just being good friends and good teammates.”

Single-game and season tickets for the 2017-18 season are on sale. To purchase your tickets, head to GoColumbiaLions.com/Tickets, call 888-LIONS-11 or visit the Athletics Ticket Office in the Dodge Physical Fitness Center.