GLENDALE — Though she's only been the head coach of the Glendale Community College women's basketball program for four months, Carrie Miller isn't going to use the lack of time in the position as a crutch.
Known for having a sharp eye at evaluating talent, Miller didn't have the opportunities that her counterparts had in exploring the recruiting trail this past summer in an attempt to find players who might be able to grasp her strategies.
That doesn't mean the current cast of players at Glendale college doesn't fit the bill, though. Teaching is a daily occurrence, and the Vaqueros and Miller have been learning about each other.
"I think we definitely have some strengths," said Miller, who took over for Monica Hang after Hang left to take a similar job at Western State Conference-rival L.A. Valley College. "We have the potential, but we are just young.
"Some players were not taught very much in high school, but we have had some players who have picked things up. Every day, you just try to teach and try to get better."
The Vaqueros, who went 12-15 and 5-7 in conference last season, will begin their new season at 1 p.m. Friday against L.A. Southwestern in an opening-round game of the Pasadena City College Tournament.
Miller, a Littlerock High graduate who spent last season as a recruiting and scouting coordinator for the Antelope Valley College women's program, said there will be some growing pains, but she would like to have her squad clicking by the start of conference in January.
"It's a learning process all the way around," said Miller, who also has served as an assistant coach at Antelope Valley and Santa Barbara City and Adams State College in Colorado. "There's a new coach who has a new system in place and even the returners are getting used to the style."
Miller said the Vaqueros will field 12 players, eight of whom will be freshmen. Only two players — Chelsea Baquiero and Araceli Nieves — were members of last season's squad.
The guards will be Nieves and Baquiero and fellow sophomores Amanda Manahan and Gabriela Silva. Manahan and Silva missed all of last season because of knee injuries after playing for the Vaqueros during the 2008-09 campaign.
The freshman guards will be Michelle Eclar, a Glendale Adventist Academy graduate, Alexandra Mancillas, Burbank High graduate Michelle Kojakehyanyan and Delfina Gonzalez.
The forwards will be freshmen Daniela Ruvalcaba, Alayna Powell, Marianna Azizian and Stephanie Sanchez.
"We've been teaching them the motion offense and I like up-tempo and all-out defense," Miller said. "Playing strong defense creates opportunities.
"It's about being in the right position and forcing other teams to make mistakes."
The Vaqueros, seeking their first trip to the Southern California Regionals since 2003, will participate in five tournaments through Dec. 29. They will take part in the Vaquero Shootout, which will run Nov. 19-21, and will also compete in tournaments in the San Fernando Valley, the Antelope Valley and Ventura.
The eight-team Vaquero Shootout will also include West L.A., Fullerton, Chaffey, Ventura, Palomar, Antelope Valley and Irvine Valley colleges. The tournament's championship contest will begin at 4 p.m. Nov. 21.
Glendale will start conference competition at 7 p.m. Jan. 5 at home against L.A. Valley. Its conference road opener will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 8 against Santa Monica.
The Vaqueros will close out the regular-season portion of their schedule at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 against visiting Bakersfield.
Glendale will look to compete with traditional conference powers College of the Canyons, Citrus, West L.A. and Santa Monica.
"The biggest thing that I want is to have the preseason prepare them for conference," Miller said. "Those teams know that we will be good defensively and working hard.
"We want them to know that we are here and we will give you a game. The offense will come and defensively there will be no excuse not to be in the right place and going at it hard."