Starting his 10th season at the helm of the program, Fort Hays State University women’s basketball coach Tony Hobson believes his Tigers will be a good offensive team.

The early portion of its schedule, he said, will be all about improving FHSU’s defense, one that he said might include some zone looks to utilize what will be a tall lineup across the board in 2017-18.

That season gets started today in an 8 p.m. contest against Upper Iowa in Fayette, Iowa. It’s part of a two-day trip in Fayette that will conclude with Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. contest against Southwest Minnesota State.

“Offensively, we’re OK, but we’re so far behind defensively where we usually are,” Hobson said. “The inexperience, defensively, right now is the glaring weakness and something we’ll have to really work on and improve.”

The Tigers in the preseason took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Last week, FHSU made the trip to Hartford, Conn., to face dynasty program University of Connecticut the XL Center.

The Tigers fell 82-37 to the preseason favorite in NCAA Division I. In that game, Tiger sophomore Kacey Kennett put up 16 of the 37 points, hitting 6 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 10 from 3-point range. She followed that up with a 10-point performance in a 61-46 loss to Kansas State University, helped out by 10 points from sophomore Taylor Rolfs.

The young Tiger group features just one senior in Emma Stroyan. Among a sophomore class, though, Robin Ritsema, Belle Barbieri, Kennett and Rolfs all saw time as freshmen.

“(Kennett) was a mature basketball player for a freshman,” Hobson said. “She’s improved and she looks like a seasoned veteran.”

That feeling was the same for Rolfs, a Central Plains High School graduate.

“She’s showing signs of becoming the player I thought she would be when she got here.”

Also returning are juniors Carly Heim and Tatyana Legette. Heim looks to take over full-time point guard duties after seeing time on the floor last season behind Niki Kacperska. Legette was the Tigers’ second-leading scorer a year ago with 9.6 points per night. She also led the Tigers in rebounds with 7.6 per outing. Kennett averaged 8.7 points per game, while Heim averaged 7.8 points.

FHSU will be, for at least a little bit, without Madison Mittie, a sophomore guard and daughter of KSU coach Jeff Mittie. Madison hurt her knee in the spring, and Hobson said it will be around Thanksgiving when a decision is made on her availability this season.