2010-11 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preview: Coaches Pick Grand Valley State & Findlay to Win Divisional Titles

By Sandy Gholston, Special Writer for the GLIAC

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BAY CITY, Mich. -  The chase for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) women's basketball title promises to be a hotly-contested one with a number of teams optimistic about their chances to claim some hardware by the end of the season.

2010 GLIAC
Women’s Basketball
Preseason Poll

Rank

Team (1st-place votes)

Pts.

North Division

1.

Grand Valley State (17)

161

2.

Michigan Tech (4)

124

3.

Northern Michigan (3)

116

4.

Northwood (1)

103

5.

Lake Superior State

90

6.

Ferris State

71

7.

Saginaw Valley State

35

South Division

1.

Findlay (15)

161

2.

Hillsdale (10)

158

3.

Ashland

126

4.

Wayne State

83

5.

Lake Erie

64

6.

Tiffin

63

7.

Ohio Dominican

45

Coming into the season, Grand Valley State University is the early favorite to rein as the Lakers are ranked 20th in the Division II Bulletin Women’s Basketball Top 25 Poll. With four starters back and seven letterwinners on the roster, the Lakers of head coach Janel Burgess have the experience and the skill to step forward as a leader for the GLIAC in the conference, on the regional stage and on the national scene. In that same poll, the University of Findlay was listed among “others to watch” as it returns a solid squad to the hardwood.

The Lakers will have plenty of competition this season. In the North Division, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Northern Michigan University, Northwood University, and Saginaw Valley State University will take aim at the Lakers. The Huskies graduated a large group of talented players to graduation, but the program has a history of reloading to compete at a high level. Northwood feature's the GLIAC "Preseason Player of the Year" in senior G/F Pam Wilson. Ferris State’s youth continues to gain experience, Lake State has gained experience and the Cardinals expect to continue to be a team that is on the rise.

GLIAC Women's Basketball Preseason Player of the Year," Northwood's Pam Wilson (Grand Blanc, Mich.), earned First Team All-GLIAC honors in her junior season, when she finished fourth in the conference in scoring (16.5 ppg) and eighth in rebounding (6.3 rpg).  She scored over 20 points in a game nine times last season, including a career-high total of 32 against Grand Valley State.  Wilson led the team in scoring a total of nine times and registered a total of four double-doubles.  She played four different positions during the Timberwolves’ injury-plagued season, going anywhere from the power forward to point guard.  Wilson is the first player from Northwood to earn GLIAC Preseason Player of the Year honors.

2010 GLIAC Women’s Basketball
Preseason Player of the Year

Pam Wilson

Northwood

Sr.

F/G

2010 Women’s Basketball
North Division

Preseason All-GLIAC Teams

First Team

Name

School

Yr.

Pos.

Marie Blazejewski

LSSU

So.

F

Emily Joseph

LSSU

Sr.

G

Alex Stelfox

GVSU

So.

C

Steffani Stoeger

NMU

Sr.

G

Pam Wilson

NU

Sr.

G

Second Team

Tiara Adams

FSU

Sr.

F

Brittany Burkhardt

SVSU

Sr.

F

Rachel Church

NU

So.

G

Lindsey Lindstrom

MTU

Jr.

F

Jasmine Padin

GVSU

Jr.

G

2010 Women’s Basketball
South Division

Preseason All-GLIAC Teams

First Team

Name

School

Yr.

Pos.

Emily Anderson

HC

So.

G

Laura Bardall

UF

Jr.

G

Daiva Gerbec

AU

So.

C

Chelsea Harrison

HC

Jr.

G

Mandy Jaeb

TU

Jr.

G

Second Team

Laura Barczak

HC

Sr.

F

Jen Caiola

LEC

Jr.

G

Summer Hale

ODU

Sr.

F

Jessica Harris

TU

So.

F

Rachel Poorman

AU

Sr.

G

In the South Division, Findlay will have plenty of competition from a solid Hillsdale squad, an Ashland program that should be healthier, a young and improving Wayne State team and a Tiffin squad that can compete. Newcomers Ohio Dominican University and Lake Erie College hope to compete with established GLIAC competition.

In the North Division, GVSU was picked first in the 2010-11 GLIAC Preseason Women’s Basketball Media Poll with 17 first-place votes and 161 points. Michigan Tech was selected second with four first-place votes and 124 points. In third place was Northern Michigan with three first-place votes and 116 points, fourth place was Northwood with one first-place nod and 103 points.  Lake Superior was fifth with 90 points, sixth was Ferris State with 71 points and seventh was Saginaw Valley State with 35 points.

In the South Division, the Oilers were picked first with 161 points and 15 first-place votes. Hillsdale earned ten first-place votes and a total of 158 points. Ashland, one of the programs on the rise in the GLIAC, was third with 126 points; Wayne State, which hopes to contend with the top teams in its division, was fourth with 83 points; Lake Erie was chosen fifth with 64 points; and Tiffin was sixth with 63 points; while Ohio Dominican placed seventh with 45 points.

Here’s a preview of teams in their projected order of finish according to the 2010-11 GLIAC Preseason Women’s Basketball Media Poll:

North Division

1. Grand Valley State

Overview: Expectations are running high for Grand Valley. The Lakers return a strong team with talented players in the paint, on the wing and at the point for head coach Janel Burgess. In the paint, the Lakers welcome back 6-2 center Alex Stelfox, who averaged 12 points and four rebounds last season while blocking 40 shots. On the wing, GVSU welcomes back 5-9 Briauna Taylor, who averaged 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds and 5-11 Elizabeth Van Tiflin, who put up 4.9 points and five rebounds. At the point, Grand Valley has one of the league’s best in 5-2 playmaker Jasmine Padin, who averaged 9.6 points and dished 117 assists. Grand Valley totaled 18 wins last season and finished third in the North Division standings at 15-7.

Coaching: Janel Burgess is in her fourth season as the head women’s basketball coach at Grand Valley State University.

Quick Facts: For the sixth straight season, Grand Valley enjoyed a winning record and earned a trip to the GLIAC Tournament … Stelfox and Padin were selected to the All-GLIAC preseason team.

2009-10 Record: 18-10 overall, 15-7 GLIAC

2. Michigan Tech

Overview: Tech, which rose to high levels of national Division II prominence, will have a new look with a host of new faces. Kim Cameron, who spent five years as an assistant at MTU, begins her first season as head coach of the Huskies. Cameron will have, in essence, an all new staff. On the floor, Tech lost all five starters from last season and six seniors in all from a team that won back-to-back NCAA Midwest Regional championships. The top returning scorer for the Huskies is 6-foot forward Lindsey Lindstrom, who averaged 4.4 points. Lucy Dernovsek, at 5-11 is another option for Tech. In the middle, 6-2 center Lisa Staehlin, 6-1 Lynn Giesler and 6-1 Heather Kessler are options for the Huskies. At guard, Sam Hoyt, a sophomore, could emerge as the playmaker at point guard. Junior Krista Kasuboski and senior Angela Guisfredi are among the candidates to battle for playing time in the backcourt.

Coaching: Kim Cameron is in her first season as the head women’s basketball coach at Michigan Tech University.

Quick Facts: Cameron has added Sarah Stream, who spent the previous six years as a player in the MTU program, to the coaching staff. Rae Drake also joins the coaching staff after spending five seasons with the Tech men’s program … Lindstrom was honored as a preseason All-GLIAC selection.

2009-10 Record: 31-3 overall, 20-2 GLIAC

3. Northern Michigan

Overview: The Wildcats returned to their status as one of the better teams in the GLIAC last season with a strong run under head coach Troy Mattson to put together a record of 22-10 as they advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Senior guard Steffani Stoeger returns to the hardwood for the Wildcats after a solid season during which she averaged 10.4 points. Stoeger shot .359 from the floor and .340 from the 3-point arc for the Wildcats. Kellie Rietveld averaged 6.8 points and hit .436 from the floor and .390 percent from outside the 3-point line. Hillary Bowling, a 5-10 junior forward, also promises to be a key contributor this season averaging 4.5 points.

Coaching: Troy Mattson is entering his fifth season as the head women’s basketball coach at Northern Michigan University.

Quick Facts: The best NCAA Tournament appearance for the Wildcats was in 1998 when they advanced to the Final Four … Stoeger was recognized as an All-GLIAC preseason choice.

2009-10 Record: 22-10 overall, 16-6 GLIAC

4. Northwood

Overview: Few teams were hurt more by injuries than Northwood’s women’s basketball team during the 2009-10 season. This year, the Timberwolves hope the health issues are ironed out and the squad is ready to do big things. One of the leaders undoubtedly will be 5-10 forward Pam Wilson, one of the premier players in the GLIAC and in the nation. Sara Pawlaczyk, who averaged 7.8 points and 3.8 rebounds through only five games; Megan Gonta, who averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds through 16 games; and Rachel Church, who averaged 10.2 points through just six games, strengthen the backcourt. On the front line, aiding Wilson, will be Savannah Stedman, who averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in six games, and Corrie Brown, who averaged 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds, among others.

Coaching: Jeff Curtis is entering his seventh campaign as the head women’s basketball coach at Northwood University.

Quick Facts: Curtis is just the seventh head coach in the history of Northwood’s women’s basketball program … Wilson was named the preseason All-GLIAC Player of the Year … Wilson and Church were named preseason All-GLIAC selections.

2009-10 Record: 13-14 overall, 9-13 GLIAC

5. Lake Superior State

Overview: The Lakers returned a squad that has gained experience the last few seasons under head coach Jamie Pewinski. Maria Blazejewski, a 6-foot forward, is fast becoming a top-flight player in the GLIAC. She averaged 12.8 points and 3.7 rebounds. Emily Joseph, a solid GLIAC guard and one of LSSU’s top-returning scorers is another key contributor. Joseph, who averaged 12.7 points, also proved to be a solid playmaker as she totaled 4.4 assists per game. Depth is solid for the Lakers with a pair of senior guards in Ronlea Peterson, who averaged 8.9 points and 4.6 rebounds, and Nicole Marshall, who averaged 12.4 points and played in (and started) all 28 games. Last winter, Lake Superior State finished with a record of 15-13 Laker team and placed fourth in the North Division of the GLIAC as it ended up 11-11.

Coach: Jamie Pewinski is in her fifth year as the head women’s basketball coach at Lake Superior State University.

Quick Facts: Lake Superior returns five seniors to the hardwood this season in Allison Jaynes, Joseph, Alyssa Loney, Marshall and Peterson … Blazejewski and Joseph were named preseason All-GLIAC choices.

2009-10 Record: 16-15 overall, 9-13 GLIAC

6. Ferris State

Overview: Once again, Ferris sends a young team to the court looking to bounce back with a strong season under head coach Tracey Dorow. The Bulldogs have proven players returning in leaders like Tiara Adams, a senior forward; Becci Houdek, a senior point guard; Tricia Principe, a junior guard; Kelsey DeNoyelles, another junior guard; Amy Joostberns, a senior forward; and Andrea Clancy, a senior center, who is coming back off an injury that wiped out the entire 2009-10 season for her. Last season, young players like Katy Fox, a 6-1 center, and Kyle Muntz, a talented guard, earned valuable playing time. Principe averaged 11.6 points to lead the Bulldogs last season and pulled down 5.2 rebounds per game while leading the nation at the free throw line at .925. Adams averaged 10 points and 8.3 rebounds for Ferris last winter. Ferris has added some talented newcomers in guard Sarah DeShone, forward Ashley Rando and forward Nikki Arner that have Coach Dorow excited.

Coaching: Tracey Dorow is entering her 13th season as the head women’s basketball coach at Ferris State University.

Quick Facts: Ferris added Kurt Westendorp as her top assistant this season while Rick Bloodworth returns as a volunteer assistant coach and Rachel Folcik is back as a student assistant … Adams was named an All-GLIAC preseason selection.

2009-10 Record: 8-19 overall, 7-15 GLIAC

7. Saginaw Valley State

Overview: The Cardinals hope that experience gained during the 2009-10 season will pay dividends this winter. Saginaw Valley returns a team with more experience with nine returning letterwinners and all five starters back. SVSU compiled a record of 7-20 overall and 5-17 in the GLIAC, but is hopeful that those challenges and near-misses will be a springboard into bigger and better things for head coach Shannon Baugh’s squad. Brittany Burkhardt, a 6-foot senior forward, leads a cast of returners for Saginaw Valley. A year ago, Burkhardt led the team in scoring at 11.7 points per game as she also averaged 5.4 rebounds. More firepower returns as Jasmine Kennedy is back coming off a season during which she ranked second on the squad in scoring at 9.4 points per game. She averaged 4.7 rebounds. Kelley Wesp, who started all 27 games, averaged 8.2 points and led the team with 69 assists. Grace Herzog, a 6-3 sophomore center, averaged 7.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and blocked 82 shots. Aysha Boston averaged 7.5 points and totaled 59 assists.

Coaching: Shannon Baugh is entering her third season as the head women’s basketball coach at Saginaw Valley State University.

Quick Facts: Saginaw Valley won three of its last five games to end the 2009-10 season … Brittany Burkhardt was chosen as an All-GLIAC preseason honoree.

2009-10 Record: 7-20 overall, 5-17 GLIAC


South Division


1. Findlay

Overview: Findlay has suffered some key losses to graduation on its roster, but expectations remain high for the Oilers on the hardwood after a 22-9 record during the 2009-10 campaign. One of the reasons for optimism is 5-11 junior forward Laura Bardall, easily one of the top players in the GLIAC entering the 2009-10 season. A year ago, she started in all 31 games for Findlay and was named All-GLIAC Second Team as she averaged 15.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists. This year’s Findlay squad will be very young on paper with five freshmen (Saira House, Karli Beasley, Kaleigh Kenny and Carlay Stahl) new to the program. The Oilers have four sophomores (Ashley Andrews, Kendra Elam, Tai Dotson and Kayla Brown) and three juniors (Bardall, Kaitlyn Nelson and Clare Aubry, a junior transfer from the University of Toledo. Aubry averaged four points per game as a sophomore for the Rockets before she transferred from the Division I program to Division II Findlay.

Coaching: Kate Cummings is entering her fifth season as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Findlay.

Quick Facts: During the 2009-10 season, Findlay reached the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in school history as the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region … the Oilers defeated Wisconsin-Parkside to reach the round of 32 before it fell to No. 1 seed Michigan Tech … Bardall was a preseason All-GLIAC choice.

2009-10 Record: 22-9 overall, 15-7 GLIAC

2. Hillsdale

Overview: The Chargers return several key contributors from 2009 led by 5-8 sophomore guard Emily Anderson, 5-9 junior guard Chelsea Harrison and 6-foot senior forward Laura Barczak for veteran head coach Claudette Charney. Harrison led the team in scoring last season at 16.5 points per game while she also averaged 3.5 rebounds and dished out 46 assists. Anderson averaged 10.1 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Chargers while Barczak averaged 9.9 points and 5.7 rebounds. The Hillsdale roster is comprosed mostly of juniors, sophomores and freshmen with Barczak being the lone senior for Charney’s club which finished 14-13 overall last season and 14-8 out of the GLIAC’s South Division.

Coaching: Claudette Charney is entering her ninth season as head women’s basketball coach at Hillsdale College.

Quick Facts: Charney is one of only two female college basketball players in the state of Michigan to score 2,000 points in a career … Anderson, Harrison and Barczak were named preseason All-GLIAC picks.

2009-10 Record: 14-13 overall, 14-8 GLIAC

3. Ashland

Overview: Head coach Sue Ramsey has some key holes to fill in her lineup – including the big shoes filled by last year’s leading scorer, guard Lindsey Gaut, who averaged 13.6 points. Lacy Romine and Micki Kuns also are gone from this year’s team, but the cupboard is not bare for the Eagles. Rachel Poorman, a 5-8 senior guard, and Jenna Stutzman, a 5-7 junior and a transfer from Kent State, are veterans. Poorman averaged nine points last season and could see that number rise this season. Stutzman averaged 6.8 points last season for the Golden Flashes and is a tough scorer off the dribble and shooting from long range. Sophomore Lindsay Tenyak is back after averaging 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds during the 2009-10 season. Up front, Daiva Gerbec, a 6-foot sophomore, was the team’s second-leading scorer last season at 10.4 points per game and was the top rebounder pulling down 5.5 per contest. More experience returns up front in the form of Liz Tyler, a 6-foot senior who averaged 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds. She can block shots and runs the floor very well. Beth Mantkowski, a 6-2 center, will provide some depth along with 5-11 redshirt sophomore Ashley Dorner, who averaged 4.8 points and 2.7 rebounds last season.

Coaching: Sue Ramsey is entering her 16th season as the head women’s basketball coach at Ashland University.

Quick Facts: This is Stutzman’s first season with the Eagles after competing previously at the Division I level for Kent State University of the Mid-American Conference … Gerbec and Poorman were chosen as preseason All-GLIAC performers.

2009-10 Record: 14-14 overall, 10-12 GLIAC

4. Wayne State

Overview: Wayne State is one of those programs GLIAC coaches feel is on the rise and with good reason. The Warriors have recruited well in recent seasons and those solid classes are beginning to pay dividends for head coach Gloria Bradley. WSU is back with a large chunk of its young and talented roster from 2009-10 led by 5-11 sophomore Chelsea Davis, who averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season; 5-10 sophomore Deanna Crumpton, who averaged 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds; 5-9 sophomore Tyler Hardy, who averaged seven points a year ago; 5-8 junior Felicia Thomas, who averaged 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds; and 5-7 senior Chelsea Kouri, who scored 6.4 points and pulled down 2.9 rebounds a night. Wayne is a team that has had to go through the growing pains of sending a young team to the court in a league as tough as the GLIAC. Those experiences, however, should begin to pay off this winter as Wayne State’s youth matures and goes into competition with a better understanding of how to be successful.

Coaching: Gloria Bradley is entering her 11th season as the head women’s basketball coach at Wayne State University.

Quick Facts: Chelsea Kouri, a three-year letterwinner, is the lone senior on WSU’s roster for the 2010-11 season.

2009-10 Record: 8-19 overall, 6-16 GLIAC
  
5. Lake Erie

Overview: Lake Erie will have its share of challenges this year, but the Storm does begin GLIAC competition with experienced players back in the lineup. Jen Caiola a 5-10 junior forward, averaged 13.4 points and 3.3 rebounds last season. She is expected to be a leader on the floor this season for Lake Erie. Stephanie Rogers, a 6-1 junior forward/center, averaged 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds last season. Brittany Zele, a 5-5 junior guard, averaged seven points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season; Britt Busson, a 5-7 junior guard, averaged 5.3 points and 2.4 assists a year ago; and Sara Wojciechowski, a 5-7 sophomore guard, averaged 5.9 points for the Storm during the 2009-10 campaign. Allison Pavkov, a 5-11 junior; Katelyn Prince, a 5-8 senior; and Liz Stephens, a 6-footer, are among the other returning veterans.

Coaching: Bob Booher is entering his sixth season on the Storm bench as head coach.

Quick Facts: Coach Booher has nearly 40 years of coaching experience … LEC opens at home on Nov. 15 against Ursuline … the Storm begin GLIAC play on Dec. 2 at Wayne State … Caiola was an All-GLIAC preseason pick.

2009-10 Record: 18-9 overall, N/A GLIAC

6. Tiffin

Overview: Tiffin had some challenges last season, but could use that experience and the leadership of two key returners to achieve bigger and better things during the 2010-11 season. The Dragons, coming off a season during which it finished 7-20 overall, welcome back a pair of solid contributors in Mandy Jaeb, a junior guard, and Jessica Harris, a sophomore forward. In all Tiffin returns seven letterwinners from a year ago. Jaeb, a 5-3 guard, averaged 19.5 points and 4.7 rebounds while Harris, a 6-1 forward, averaged 7.9 points and 9.6 rebounds. Other key contributors include sophomore guard Karli Mast, who averaged 9.6 points and 2.2 rebounds; Holly Focke, who averaged 6.6 points and six rebounds; and junior Jennifer Johnston, who averaged 6.7 points and 2.2 rebounds. Look out for some key newcomers for the Dragons with junior transfers Deidra Brown (Wilberforce University), a 5-9 guard, and Jessika Korzelius (Santa Ana Community College in California), a 6-foot forward, and incoming freshmen Mary Kate Campbell, Amanda Baute, Dani Gilmer, Jillian Adams and Brittany Siegel to compete for playing time.

Coaching: Pam Oswald is entering her fourth season on the Dragons’ bench as head coach.

Quick Facts: Tiffin welcomes back all five starters from last season’s 2009-10 squad of Coach Oswald … Jaeb and Harris were All-GLIAC preseason choices.

2009-10 Record: 7-20 overall, 4-18 GLIAC

7. Ohio Dominican

Overview: Ohio Dominican is making its GLIAC debut this season coming off a solid season during which if finished 16-11 as an independent. Transitioning from NAIA competition, the Panthers did have opportunities to battle some NCAA Division II competition last season in preparation for their first year in the GLIAC this winter. This season, Ohio Dominican returns a group of players that has college basketball experience led by 5-11 senior Summer Hale, who averaged 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds last season. Also back is Tracy Snider, a 5-10 junior who averaged 11.6 points and 3.9 rebounds; Katy Rasor, a 5-6 guard who averaged 9.7 points; Meredith Fox, a 5-8 junior who averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 rebounds; and Melissa Hersey, a 5-4 guard who totaled 149 assists and averaged five points. This team is new to the GLIAC, but it is not new to college basketball.

Coaching: Nathan Bellman is entering his fifth season on the Panthers’ bench as head coach, but his first in the GLIAC.

Quick Facts: Bellman guided the Panthers to back-to-back American Mideast Conference Tournament Championships and NAIA National Tournament appearances in 2007-08 and 2008-09 … Hale was picked by the GLIAC for its preseason all-conference team.

2009-10 Record: 16-11 overall, N/A GLIAC

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