One year after a historic 2016-17 season, the SVSU women’s basketball team is set to take the court with many new faces.
With the graduation of key players Emily Wendling and Katelyn Carriere, in addition to the transfer of Halee Nieman, the Lady Cards are returning just six players from last season’s team.
The rest of the team’s roster is comprised of seven true freshmen and one redshirt freshman.
Head coach Jamie Pewinski is entering her seventh season as head coach, and she will have Ryan Trevithick and Luke Lloyd as her assistants.
The Lady Cardinals are coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in over two decades.
“Our goals for our recruiting classes are always the same,” Pewinski said. “We’re trying to get the most talented kids we can that fit our culture. We need to have hard-working, good, academic students who are willing to be coached and want to improve. So with this class, those characteristics were first, and then we needed to build as much depth at all positions as we could.”
Thin with leadership and collegiate experience, the new players will not have the opportunity to learn the game at the next level, as they will have to fill the holes left by last season’s departures.
“They’ll have to learn on the fly, and we’re pushing them to do so as fast as we can,” Pewinski said. “We have to take advantage of every minute we have to teach them on the court, and to help them learn through film, but there is definitely a learning curve for everyone as we figure out how to make sure we’re as ready as we can be when games roll around.”
Even with the young lineup, the GLIAC coaches polled SVSU to finish second in the GLIAC South Division, behind last year’s national champion Ashland University.
“We feel the ranking is a testament to all of the work that has been put into the program over the past six years and the respect that the coaches have for this program,” Pewinski said. “Being respected is always a good thing, and it’s that respect that will cause teams not to take us lightly, regardless of who is wearing the uniform. So it is our job to work hard enough to wear the uniform and show that same respect back to the players that wore the jersey before us.”
Junior guards Anna Hall and Hannah Settingsgaard and forward Abby Duffy will join sophomore guards Mariah Cook, Francesa Coury and Katie Schultz as the only returning players on the team.
The path to a third straight NCAA Tournament berth will be challenging. In the first WBCA coaches poll of the season, Ashland enters the preseason ranked No. 1 in the country after going undefeated last season.
Michigan Tech is the other GLIAC team in the top 25 at No. 21.
The team kicks off the season on the road for the annual GLIAC/GLVC Challenge beginning on Friday, Nov. 10, at Bellarmine University.
The team then will travel to Indiana to take on Southern Indiana on Sunday, Nov. 12.