By Sandy Gholston, Special Writer for the GLIAC
BAY CITY, Mich. – This season has all the makings of being another hotly-contested battle for Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) women's basketball supremacy on the hardwood.
This season, the GLIAC features several of the top teams in the nation in Division II – led by national finalist Ashland University, which welcomes back one of the best players in the nation, senior forward Kari Daugherty. Daugherty has already been named the Women's D-II Bulletin National Preseason Player of the Year. Her Eagles, a team that finished 19-0 in league play last winter under head coach Sue Ramsey, was picked as the No. 1 team in the USA TODAY Sports/ESPN Division II Top 25 women's basketball preseason poll.
The Eagles should have strong competition from peers in the GLIAC. Last season, Ferris finished 17-2 in the GLIAC and won the North Division title. The Bulldogs return an experienced squad that will be guided by first-year head coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate. The North Division looks tough from start to finish with perennial national power Michigan Tech among the teams that will be aiming to knock off both Ferris and AU.
Among the top players in the league joining Daugherty are Sarah DeShone, a junior guard from Ferris; Sam Hoyt, a senior guard from Michigan Tech; Briauna Taylor, a senior wing from Grand Valley State; Maria Blazejewski, a senior from Lake Superior State; Kayla Brown, a senior from Findlay; Rachel Church, a senior from Northwood; Lea Jones, a senior from Hillsdale; Jessica Harris, a senior from Tiffin; and Alyssa Miller, a junior from Ashland.
Those top players will set the tone in what should be a great race for the top team spots in the GLIAC.
|2012 GLIAC Women's Basketball
North Division Poll
|1||Ferris St. (15)||174||23-7|
|2||Mich. Tech (8)||164||20-7|
|2012 GLIAC Women's Basketball
South Division Poll
Below are previews of all 16 GLIAC women's basketball teams in alphabetical order:
Coaching: Sue Ramsey, who is also the assistant athletic director and senior women's administrator at AU, is in her 18th season as the Eagles' bench as head coach. Ramsey was the 2011-12 GLIAC Coach of the Year.
Noteworthy: Last year's team set the school single-season record for wins and her 2003-2004 team went 23-8.
2011-12 Record: 33-2 overall, 19-0 GLIAC
Ferris State University
Overview: It's the dawn of a new era in Ferris State University's women's basketball program with the hiring of first-year head coach Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate. After a highly-successful career as a high school coach, Lamoreaux-Tate is ready to bring her experiences to the college level as she takes over a Ferris program that returns a lot of talent from a strong 2011-12 season. The Bulldogs' lineup features Sarah DeShone, a junior guard. DeShone is back as one of the top guards in the GLIAC, the region and potentially the nation. She earned All-GLIAC First Team honors last season. A pair of sophomores, Christina Branch, the 2011-12 GLIAC Freshman of the Year, and Hannah Hoffman, will add strength to the middle for the Bulldogs along with senior Katy Fox. Ashley Rando, a junior forward returns as one of the team leaders. On the perimeter, Ferris will have senior leadership help from Kylie Muntz.
Coaching: Colleen Lamoreaux-Tate is entering her first season as the head women's basketball coach at Ferris.
Noteworthy: Lamoreaux-Tate's top assistant this season will be Charlette Muller. Most recently, Muller spent the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons as the varsity head girls basketball coach at Grand Rapids Christian.
2011-12 Record: 23-7 overall, 17-2 GLIAC
University of Findlay
Overview: Findlay is entering the 2012-13 season with optimism after a campaign of challenges in 2011-12 – not the least of which were injuries on top of injuries. In spite of all of the issues the Oilers were challenged by, the team finished 15-12 overall and 9-10 in conference play as it advanced to the league tournament. Among the top returning starters for the Oilers is senior guard/forward Kayla Brown, who was an All-GLIAC Second Team selection as she averaged 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds during her junior year. Other returning starters for the Oilers include junior guard Ashley Andrews and junior forward Kaleigh Kenny. Andrews started in 11 games last season while Kenny was a starter in 16 contests. Sophomore Lacey Kessler is back after a strong freshman year during which she averaged 7.2 points and three rebounds in just 16.2 minutes per game. The team features seven new players as the coaching staff will look for some of the newcomers to step in and contribute this season.
Coaching: Kate Cummings is entering her seventh season as the head women's basketball coach at the University of Findlay.
Noteworthy: Last season, the Oilers advanced to the GLIAC Tournament for the third consecutive time.
2011-12 Record: 15-12 overall, 9-10 GLIAC
Grand Valley State University
Overview: Grand Valley has worked through some of the growing pains that come with having a young team during the last couple of seasons. This season, however, GVSU has some veteran experience in the form of key contributors who are both seniors and juniors. Leading the returning cast is standout forward Briauna Taylor, a senior who earned All-GLIAC First Team honors last season. Taylor averaged 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds last season. Lauren Stodola, also a senior guard, returns to strengthen that Laker backcourt. Inside, Alex Stelfox, who was limited to just 14 games last season, is back in the paint for GVSU, as a senior. Stelfox averaged 9.43 points and 5.2 rebounds last season in limited action. She will have help in the middle from redshirt sophomore Emily England, Kellie Watson, a versatile junior forward, and Dani Crandall, a junior guard, who all return for the Lakers. Meryl Cripe, who gained experience last season as a freshman is back. Kat LaPrairie, a transfer from Lake Superior State, and Eryn Maday, a transfer from Northern Michigan add to the GVSU roster.
Coaching: Janel Burgess enters her sixth season as the head women's basketball coach at Grand Valley State University.
Noteworthy: Phil Sayers enters his first season with Grand Valley State University as an assistant women's basketball coach. Previously, he spent four seasons as an assistant on the Western Michigan University women's basketball coaching staff.
2011-12 Record: 10-16 overall, 7-12 GLIAC
Overview: Last winter, Hillsdale qualified for the GLIAC Tournament before it dropped a 68-58 decision to Tiffin in the quarterfinals. Head coach Claudette Charney is hungry for another solid year from her team on the hardwood. Hillsdale will have to fill the shoes of guard Chelsea Harrison, who earned All-GLIAC First Team honors in her final campaign at Hillsdale. Without Harrison, the Chargers welcome back a solid nucleus led by guard Marissa DeMott, who averaged 11.3 points last season with 3.8 rebounds per contest. Lea Jones returns for the Chargers after averaging 10.5 points and 6.2 rebounds a year ago. Jones earned All-GLIAC Second Team and GLIAC All-Defensive Team honors last season as a representative of Hillsdale. Angela Bisaro is also back after averaging 7.6 points and 3.2 rebounds during the 2011-12 season.
Coaching: Claudette Charney is entering her 11th season as the head women's basketball coach at Hillsdale College.
Noteworthy: The Hillsdale College women's basketball team has an official blog that can be found at: http://chargerwbb.posterous.com/.
2011-12 Record: 14-13 overall, 10-9 GLIAC
Lake Erie College
Overview: This year's Lake Erie women's basketball squad will feature a lot of new faces on the hardwood. The Storm graduated eight players from last season, including three players who scored 1,000 or more points for a career. That is the tough news. The good news is that the Storm opened some eyes with a 16-win season that included a berth in the GLIAC Tournament for the first time in program history. The cupboard is far from bare, however, as Lake Erie College welcomes back senior guard Sarah Wojciechowski, junior wing player Chrissy Delaney and sophomore front-court player Jodie Jindra back from an injury.
Coaching: Bob Booher is entering his eighth season as the head women's basketball coach at Lake Erie College.
Noteworthy: The Storm will be bolstered by senior transfer Ashar Harris. The 5-10 post player from Columbus (Ohio) averaged a double-double during her three years at Morehead State and was NCAA Division I's third leading rebounder each of the last two seasons.
Lake Superior State University
Overview: The 2012-13 season begins a new chapter in program history for the Lake Superior State women's basketball team. The Lakers begin fresh with interim head coach Shannon Eggers. Leading the list of talented returners is 6-foot senior forward Maria Blazejewski; junior guard Raven Trammell and sophomore guard Kandace Crittendon. Last season, Blazejewski averaged 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds as one of the top scorers in the conference. She was named to the All-GLIAC Second Team. The Lakers will boast a youthful look with a team that has just one senior, three juniors, five sophomores and five freshmen.
Eggers and assistant coach Danielle Lindloff will work to put the young Lakers on the fast track to improvement.
Coaching: Shannon Eggers is entering her first season as the interim head women's basketball coach at Lake Superior State University.
Noteworthy: Eggers has been an assistant women's basketball coach for the past four seasons.
2011-12 Record: 10-16 overall, 6-13 GLIAC
Overview: In its first season of GLIAC competition, Malone is coming prepared with some offensive firepower as it prepares for the season. The Pioneers welcome back a trio of top scorers from the 2011-12 squad, including: Lindsy Snyder, a sophomore forward; Lauren Myers, a senior guard; and Sydnee Penn, a junior guard. Snyder was the team's leading scorer last season as she averaged 13.8 points and shot 57.3 percent from the field. She also led the team on the boards as she averaged nine rebounds a contest and started in all 27 of the team's games. Myers, the team's No. 2 scorer from last season, returns after she averaged 13.1 points and three rebounds for the season. Penn, who was third on the team in scoring, averaged 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds for the Pioneers as the team finished 12-15 overall during the 2011-12 season.
Coaching: Jason Mishler is in his second season as the head women's basketball coach at Malone University.
Noteworthy: A 2005 graduate of Malone University, Coach Mishler was a three-year starter at point guard for the Pioneers. Before he was head coach of Malone, he had been serving as a basketball coach at both the high school and collegiate levels for the past six years.
2011-12 Record: 12-15 overall, N/A GLIAC
Michigan Technological University
Overview: The Michigan Tech women's basketball team will have plenty of options as it shoots for its sixth straight 20+ win season in 2012-13. Leading the Huskies will be WBCA Honorable Mention All-American senior guard Sam Hoyt. The Arkansaw, Wis., native has started the last 61 straight games for the Huskies and can eclipse the 1,000 point scoring mark this season. The two-time All-GLIAC selection ranked in the top-10 in the league in seven statistical categories including sixth in scoring (16.0 points per game), second in 3-pointers made (2.7) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7). Senior guard Emma Veach averaged 8.1 points in 16 games last season. She also averaged five rebounds for Tech. The backcourt is deep with sophomore Michelle Gaedke, junior Page Albie and junior Kelcey Traynoff (Beach Park, Ill.) working to earn playing time.
Red shirt freshman Kerry Gardner and true freshman Mackenzie Perttu will also fight to break in the line-up in their first year in a black and gold uniform. The front court could see a mix of players. Sophomore forward Jillian Ritchie earned the Terry Wilson Award as the school's top female freshman student-athlete after starting 14 of the 27 games she appeared in. Ritchie averaged 2.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
Coaching: Kim Cameron begins her third season at Tech. She became the first Division II head coach in Michigan Tech history to lead a team to a national championship game in 2011.
Noteworthy: The Huskies are four-time NCAA Division II Midwest Region champions.
2011-12 Record: 20-7 overall, 14-5 GLIAC
Northern Michigan University
Overview: After finishing the 2011-12 season just an eyelash below .500, Northern Michigan is reloading with some fresh new talent to go along with a group of returning players led by Alyssa Colla, a 5-11 sophomore guard who averaged 8.7 points; and Courtney Lemon, a 6-3 sophomore center who averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 rebounds last season. The Wildcats will feature a youthful look with four true freshmen and three redshirt freshman on the roster. Additionally, NMU's player listing contains seven sophomores, two juniors and no seniors for head coach Troy Mattson.
Coaching: Troy Mattson enters his eighth season as the head men's basketball coach at Northern Michigan University.
Noteworthy: Bill Hill, the fifth all-time leading scorer in Northern Michigan men's basketball team history, with 1,612 points, joins the NMU staff as an assistant coach.
2011-12 Record: 13-14 overall, 9-10 GLIAC
Overview: Northwood has reloaded its roster with hopes of building momentum toward bigger and better things in the GLIAC during the 2011-12 season. The cast of returning talent is led by senior guard Rachel Church, a Midland native, who averaged 12.7 points and shot just an eyelash under 40 percent from outside of the 3-point arc. Church earned All-GLIAC Second Team recognition last season. Gabrielle Rivette, a 5-6 sophomore guard; Kaitlin Susan, a 5-11 sophomore wing player; and Sarah Spring, a junior guard, provide talented depth for the Timberwolves this winter. Rivette averaged 7.6 points, Spring averaged 5.9 points and Susan averaged 5.9 points last season for Northwood. The 18-player roster features just two seniors, Church and guard Janell Smith.
Coaching: Jeff Curtis enters his eighth season as the head women's basketball coach at Northwood University.
Noteworthy: Darcie Roberts, who enters her sixth season as a coach in the Northwood University women's basketball program, was promoted to associate head coach during the summer of 2012.
2011-12 Record: 10-19 overall, 5-14 GLIAC
Ohio Dominican University
Overview: Ohio Dominican has eight returning letter winners and five incoming freshmen this season for first-year head coach Lynsey Warren. Part of the good news for the Panthers is that they have two talented players returning to lead the way in sophomore guard Kacee Hockenberry and junior forward Katelyn Stuckey. Hockenberry averaged 7.8 points and is the team's top-returning passer with 51 assists. Hockenberry started all 26 of the team's games during the 2011-12 season. Stuckey averaged 8.4 points and 5.2 rebounds last season for the Panthers.
Coaching: Lynsey Warren is entering her first season as the head women's basketball coach at Ohio Dominican University and first season overall as a college head coach.
Noteworthy: Warren, who is a Columbus, Ohio native, played college volleyball and basketball at Ashland University, joined ODU's coaching staff prior to the 2011-12 season. As the top assistant, she was responsible for all aspects of the program, including recruiting, game preparation, individual skill development and strength and conditioning.
2011-12 Record: 7-19 overall, 2-17 GLIAC
Saginaw Valley State University
Overview: Youth will be served this season as Saginaw Valley's roster boasts just one senior, guard Aysha Boston. Joining Boston on the SVSU roster are two juniors, two sophomores and six freshmen. One of the young players who could step up big this season for the Cardinals is forward Samantha Zirzow, who averaged 9.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. Boston, who started in 23 of 25 games last season, averaged 4.8 points and 2.2 assists per contest. Kayla Womack, a junior guard, and Kristen Greene, another junior guard, bring experience back to the Cardinals' lineup. In spite of that youth, Saginaw Valley will be focused on competing game after game to improve on last year's 6-20 overall record on the hardwood.
Coaching: Jamie Pewinski is entering her second season as the head women's basketball coach at Saginaw Valley State University.
Noteworthy: Coach Pewinski spent the previous 12 seasons on the Lake Superior State coaching staff prior to becoming the new head coach of the Cardinals in 2011.
2011-12 Record: 6-20 overall, 4-15 GLIAC
Overview: Tiffin is coming off arguably the best season in women's basketball program history last year with a 21-7 overall mark as the Dragons advanced to the semifinals round of the GLIAC Tournament. This fall, Tiffin is hungry to prove that last season was merely the start of bigger and better things to come on the hardwood. Leading that effort for TU this fall is likely to be Karli Mast, a second-team All-GLIAC selection in 2010-11, as she averaged 11 points and knocked down 58 3-pointers at nearly a 40-percent clip. Jessica Harris, a two-time All-GLIAC Second Team selection, returns after averaging 10.5 points and a strong 9.3 rebounds. The Dragons also welcome back senior guard Melissa Gilliland and fellow senior backcourt player Steph Kelly. Adding to the team's depth will be junior Mary Kate Campbell and juniors Jillian Adams and Erica Mathis. The veterans should be aided by what looks like a solid recruiting class.
Coaching: Pam Oswald is 62-74 in six seasons as the head women's basketball coach at Tiffin University.
Noteworthy: Tiffin broke a single-season school record last season with 21 wins on the hardwood.
2011-12 Record: 21-7 overall, 14-5 GLIAC
Overview: In its first year of competition in the GLIAC, Walsh is hoping to build off of last season's 14-17 record and make a good initial impression. The Cavaliers will be led in the court this season by senior guard Tracy Payne, who averaged 11.3 points and 2.5 rebounds last season; Maggie Berry, a junior forward who averaged 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds; Megan Hogg, who averaged 4.1 points and 3.4 rebounds; and Tara Gallupe, who scored 5.5 points and pulled down four rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor. Walsh lost some scoring firepower from last season, but the team is hopeful its returning veterans and newcomers can pick up some of that slack to help the program get off to a solid start in its new experience competing in the GLIAC.
Coaching: Laurel Wartluft is entering her seventh season as the head women's basketball coach at Walsh University and her 23rd overall.
Noteworthy: Walsh will have its first taste of GLIAC competition when it hosts Northern Michigan (Nov. 29) and Michigan Tech (Dec. 1) early in the season.
2011-12 Record: 14-17 overall, N/A GLIAC
Wayne State University
Overview: Youth has been served in recent seasons for Wayne State, but this season the team is ready for its veterans to step forward and push the program up toward the top of the standings in the GLIAC this winter. The Warriors return a roster that is loaded with experience – including its top scorers from last year's 12-14 team, including: Phaebre Colbert, a senior forward; Paige Sickmiller, a senior guard; Deanna Crumpton, a senior forward; and Juanita Cochran, a senior center. Colbert was the team's leading scorer last season at 12 points per game. She also averaged 6.5 rebounds. Cochran, holding things down in the paint, averaged 11.3 points and 8.5 rebounds while Sickmiller averaged 11.3 points and Crumpton averaged 10.1 points for head coach Carrie Lohr, who was in her first season running the Wayne State University program last winter. This season, Wayne expects to be a deeper team with experienced leadership setting the tone from the beginning.
Coaching: Carrie Lohr is in her second season as the head women's basketball coach at Wayne State University.
Noteworthy: Lohr previously served nine seasons as the head women's basketball coach at St. Clair County Community College (SC4) in Port Huron. Prior to that, she spent two years (1997-99) as an assistant coach at Oakland University as it transitioned from Division II to Division I.
2011-12 Record: 12-14 overall, 7-12 GLIAC