Thursday, November 09, 2017 1:00 am
Thunder build toward sustained success
GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette
Achieving unprecedented success is one thing, but sustaining it is another matter for the Trine women.
The Thunder had their most successful season in 2016-17, with a 25-3 record, capturing the program's first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association regular-season and tournament titles and qualifying for the Division III tournament for the first time.
“For us, the next step in the progression of our program is to try to develop the consistency where we are a top team every year, and we are competing for a championship every single year,” Trine coach Ryan Gould said. “That's what is on the minds of our players. They are excited to get out there and defend what they earned last year.
“We haven't seen a big change in their demeanor or mentality. They love to work hard, and they love to be in the gym. That part has stayed very consistent and very constant. When we get into games and have that target on your back, we will have to rise to that occasion.”
Trine (15-1 in the MIAA) returns four of five starters and nine of its top 10 players, including All-American and MVP of the MIAA in junior Brandi Dawson (15.4 points, 5 rebounds) and All-Region and MIAA Defensive Player of the Year, senior Hayley Martin (14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds). The other starters back are junior Cassidy Williams and sophomore Katy Steers.
Gould said improvement needs to be made in perimeter shooting, as well as finding a replacement for last year's starting point guard, Taylor Cole, who graduated.
He pointed out that the last four years the MIAA champion has finished either 15-1 or 16-0 in league play.
“You have to bring it every day, and in order to do that you have to have a really strong work ethic and have players who love to play basketball, and when you get to games you have to execute at a really high level,” he said.
The Lancers (17-19, 9-9 Crossroads League) will show a revamped offense, unveiling a system based on versatility, with players able to interchange among the five positions.
“The ball movement we've shown so far has been the best that I've seen during my time coaching,” Grace coach Scott Blum said. “The girls have bought into this system, and we are creating wide-open shots as a result. It's going to fit our personnel well, and I'm excited to see how we fare.”
The Lancers, whose 17 wins were the fourth most in program history, graduated two starters and brought in two transfers and three freshmen who fit Blum's offensive vision.
Brooke Sugg returns after averaging 12.8 points per game last year before suffering a season-ending injury.
The Foresters lost their all-time leading scorer to graduation in Miranda Palmer (2,173 points), who averaged 21.3 points last year. Also gone is the team's second-leading scorer, Allyson Trout (11.5 points).
Back for Huntington (15-16, 8-10 Crossroads) are junior Brooke Saylor (8.2 points), sophomore Sarah Fryman (8 points), senior Halley Krewald (7 points) and junior Maddie Richer (5.8 points).
The Spartans lose their two leading scorers from a 9-16 team that finished 8-10 in the Hoosier Heartland Athletic Conference.
Returning will be junior Beth Schaefer (7.4 points, 5.9 rebounds), sophomore Nicole Weaver (6.7 points) and sophomore Maddy Minehart (5.9 points).