Friday, October 28, 2011

Sneak Peak at the 2011-2012 Lady Knights

First of all, I should thank Matt for letting me join the FFTMAG staff! After spending the last 4 years as a member of Calvin Women’s Basketball team, I’d say I’ve learned a thing or two about Calvin basketball and am excited to share some of my thoughts on the team this season.

To remind you of the great 2010-2011 season Calvin had, here are some highlights:

  • Record of 25-5
  • MIAA regular season co-champs
  • MIAA conference tournament champs
  • 2 huge wins over #1 ranked Hope
  • NCAA Tournament Host
  • NCAA Second Round team
  • Set all time MIAA record for best defense (fewest points allowed to MIAA opponents)

Fortunately, Calvin is returning the majority of its players from last season and is ready to build on the foundation they’ve laid!

Here are just a few of my thoughts on the 2011-2012 roster…

Seniors:

Jill Thomas (5’6, Guard) *Captain

Jill’s athleticism, court awareness, and ability to shoot the 3 from anywhere on the court (remember her shot against Hope in the MIAA championship game?), make her a threat against any team. I think last season proved that Jill is a dependable player who is always ready to step up and hit the big shot or the make the big play. Her leadership on the court is going to be crucial for this year’s team to be successful but I have no doubts that Jill’s up to the challenge.

Courtney Kurncz (5’11, Guard) *Captain

Courtney is the ideal basketball player. She typically plays the “3” but has the ability to play any position out on the court. She’s hard to guard because not many teams have 5’11 guards to match up against her. Her experience the past 3 years will allow her to be a great leader.

Leah Mattson (5’7 Guard) *Captain

Leah was the second most efficient 3-point shooter on the roster, behind Kelsey Irwin. Coming off the bench last year, she was a defensive spark, always ready to work hard and be aggressive. As a senior captain, her teammates are going to look towards her for leadership both on and off the court.

Heather DeKleine

Unfortunately, Heather is out for the season following a knee injury during the 2010-2011 season. Heather provides a lot of leadership off the court that will be instrumental for this team.

Juniors:

Carissa Verkaik (6’2, Forward) *Captain

Two-time MIAA MVP and a 2011-2012 Preseason 1st Team All-American says it all. Carissa has been an integral part of the Knights’ success of the last 2 seasons and she only an underclassmen. Carissa is any team’s dream player; not only is she an incredible post presence, but she has great work ethic, a humble attitude, and sportsmanship mentality. There is nothing more you can ask for in a star player.

Ally Wolfiss (5’11 Forward)

In her sophomore season, Ally led the MIAA in field goal percentage (63%). Ally’s strength, combined with her ability to score efficiently makes it difficult for any team to guard her. I’m excited to see the damage both Ally and Carissa will do inside the paint this year.

Julia Hilbrands (6’0 Forward)

Unfortunately, the basketball team will be without Julia for the first month or so as she is a member of the Calvin Volleyball team which is trying to claim their second consecutive National Championship. But when she returns, her athleticism and aggressiveness will provide a spark coming off the bench. Combine her with Ally and Carissa, and there will be no stopping this frontline.

Kelsey Irwin (5’4, Guard)

Simply put, Kelsey is a threat from anywhere along the 3-point line. She led Calvin in 3-point percentage (shooting 37% beyond the arc) last season. Her quick shot and smooth step back provide Calvin with a great inside-out option. Look for Kelsey to put up some big shots in big situations this season.

Logan Marsh (5’6, Guard)

Logan’s biggest contribution to Calvin is her quickness and speed, which plays right into the team’s desire to fast break. Logan led the guards in the most steals last season with 39. Look for her to continue that trend this season and give the defense a big boost this season.

Sophomores:

Kirstin Tripp (5’6, Guard)

As a returning point guard, the team is going to look towards Kirstin as a leader out on the court. With one year under her belt and increased confidence, she has the potential to create some great plays for her teammates. Her aggressive attitude on the defensive end played a large part in Calvin’s ability to set the MIAA defensive record mentioned earlier

New to Varsity:

Shelby Sheehan (5’3, Guard)

Quick, left-handed point guard. Played JV last season

Kayla Engelhard (5’7, Guard)

Freshman point guard

Danielle Kapustka (5’7, Guard)

Sophomore guard who transferred from Aquinas.

Breanna Verkaik (5’11, Forward)

Not as tall as her older sister, Carissa, but can play the guard or post position. She has the potential to be a secret weapon due to her chemistry with Carissa out on the court.

Jessica Lang (5’9, Forward)

Although Jess is formally a point guard, she will be playing post at Calvin.

Maria DeKuiper (6’0, Forward)

Maria joins the Calvin post trio (Ally, Carissa, and Julia). She was a great scorer in high school, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she can do at the college level.

Calvin is currently ranked #8 according to the DIII Newsletter and Carissa Verkaik has been named a preseason All-American. I have no doubt that Calvin will crack the Top 5 in the season and stay there throughout their potential National Championship run.

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