2006-07 Women's Basketball
Teamwork the focus for 2006-07 Bluffton women's basketball
By Jenna Liechty, sports information assistant
October 31, 2006
|As the Bluffton University women's basketball team prepares for the 2006-07 campaign, head coach Chad Shutler is optimistic about the potential that the upcoming season holds. Entering his second season with the Beavers, Shutler hopes to build upon the successes of last season as he prepares his team for the challenges that await this year. Finishing the 2005-06 season with a 4-22 overall record (2-12 in the HCAC), the Beavers have the experience to be more competitive than they have been in recent years. "We learned a lot last season," commented Shutler. "Now that we know what is expected, we can start building on that foundation."|
The team will enter the season without Karin Schaller (Jenera/Arlington), who graduated with over 500 points and 500 rebounds as well as most of Bluffton's blocked shots records. With five returners this season, the team will look to veteran players for leadership both on and off the court. Three-time All-Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference player Tanya Rickenberg (Paulding/Paulding) returns as the lone senior this season, averaging 10.5 ppg and leading the Beavers with 80 assists in 2005-06. She holds two Bluffton records for number of free throws in a season (144), and career free throws with 281.
Rickenberg is joined by experienced juniors Amanda Bell (Napoleon/Liberty-Center), Lindsay Bush (Howard/East Knox), and honorable mention All-HCAC performer Angie Lee (Mt. Blanchard/Vanlue). Sophomore Sarah Bruner (Pettisville/Pettisville) also gained valuable experience for the Beavers a year ago.
With a small group of returners, Shutler will count on contributions from the large class of incoming freshmen. "We worked hard at recruiting," noted Shutler. "We will need players who can step in and contribute. I believe there is a good mix of players who show depth and maturity, which will help to push the upperclassmen. We anticipate good things from our incoming class." Included in that talented group of newcomers are Jessica Smith (Marysville/North Union), Ginny Buckingham (Bluffton/Bluffton), Deborah Smith (Lima/Perry), Vicki Auer (Cincinnati/Roger Bacon), Donelle Parker (Painesville/Harvey), Stephanie Jankov (Wooster/Wooster), Katie Lord (Toledo/Whitmer), Lindsay Ebbeskotte (Delphos/Jefferson) and Sarah Hess (Newton/Newton).
Although the team will be young, it will need to overcome inexperience through hard work and by playing as a team. "I look for our strength to lie in our ability to play as a team and to be one cohesive unit," Shutler remarked. "Unselfishness on the court will show in balanced scoring and rebounding."
Along with teamwork, the 2006-07 squad will focus on defensive improvement with a greater emphasis on rebounding. Last season, the Beavers averaged 20 turnovers a game. It is Shutler's goal to cut that number in half and to turn them into points. "With a focus on getting better defensively, we have the potential to be successful," said Shutler. To make this goal a reality, the team has been working hard in the off season to forge an increase in strength development, conditioning, agility and fundamental skills.
The Beavers hit the hardwood with back-to-back home games on November 17th against Siena Heights University and November 18th versus Ursuline College. Shutler is confident that these games will provide a great opportunity for the team to open the season with a positive start. These contests will help prepare the squad for a competitive Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, in which Franklin is expected to be a favorite. Competing with some of the better teams in the HCAC last year, the 2006-07 squad is ready to stake its claim on a berth in the post-season Heartland Conference tournament which will be limited to the top four teams during the regular season.
|In anticipation for the upcoming season, Coach Shutler commented, "We're excited to continue to learn and to get better. It's important for our growth as a program to take the next step, building on last year's successes. We're going to become a better team. We're building for the future."|