"We are going to be OK," fourth year head coach Gary Petersen said when asked about the upcoming season.

Despite the graduation of Nicole Buch, a key senior from last year, there is still enough talent to go around among Darien's girls basketball team.

"She was the heart and soul of last year's team," Petersen said.

Buch, however, was not the leading scorer in 2010-11. That honor went to then-sophomore center Meg Marren, who returns stronger than ever as a starting point guard.

"I think I have enough talent that the door is open," Petersen said. "The best players will play."

When asked to identify his team's strengths this year, Petersen noted the Blue Wave's "speed and basketball IQ."

Peterson said that the players' basketball IQ, which is essentially the ability to adjust to plays in different situations, is very important.

"I think it will be a lot higher than it has been in the past," Peterson said.

Marren, along with sophomore guard Emily Stein, who burst on the scene as a freshman last year, and junior Kate Bushell, are three underclassmen that Petersen expects to electrify this year's campaign.

That youthful energy is balanced with senior captains Leslie Yuen and sisters Susan and Amy Biggart, all of whom are three-year veterans on the team.

"We're really excited," Susan Biggart said. "We only lost three seniors from last year, and for our program that's not a deal-breaker."

"The last couple of seasons we have been progressively getting better, and we plan to keep doing that this season; we want to keep growing the program," Amy Biggart said.

Over the last three years, the program has indeed been growing. In the 2009-10 season, Darien finished 11-10, and last year it improved to 13-8, which earned the Blue Wave a spot in the FCIAC playoffs for the first time in three years.

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While they were eliminated in the first round in a close game against Trumbull, the eventual conference champions, the Blue Wave did not lose their fighting spirit.

"I still hold a grudge against Trumbull," Amy Biggart said. "Trumbull is always going to be really good, so I am looking forward to that game."

Darien is eager to make a statement this year.

"Last year was our first time in a while making it to the FCIACs," Yuen said. "We are definitely here to work hard this year, and we really want to make it to the FCIACs and States again."

"We kind of under-achieved last year," Petersen said. "We left a couple games on the table, which we hope to pick up this year. Last year we went to Ridgefield and lost to them by 47-45 in overtime. We also lost to Norwalk 35-33 last year without my starting five."

"We have a lot to prove this year," Susan Biggart said. "We are all looking forward to taking it to the next level."

Darien begins its season on the road when it travels to take on Fairfield Ludlowe at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9.