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Central picked eighth in league preseason women’s basketball poll

Women's basketball | Nov. 15, 2013

CEDAR RAPIDS—The Central College women’s basketball team was picked to finish eighth in the Iowa Conference preseason poll, as voted on by the league coaches.

The Dutch finished last season with a 10-15 overall record, 3-11 conference record and eighth place in the league standings. The Dutch return three starters in guards Rachel Evans (junior, Fort Dodge)—the top returning scorer (8.3 ppg)—and Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, Pella) and forward Bry Pierce (junior, St. Clair, Mo.) and seven letterwinners from last year’s squad.

Central opens the 2013-14 slate on the road at Grinnell Friday at 7 p.m.

Preview by Josh Schroeder, Iowa Conference director of information:

Simpson College, which captured the 2012-2013 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) regular-season and tournament titles, collected four of seven available first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own team) and placed second on the other three ballots to capture the top spot in the 2013-2014 IIAC Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll. The Storm, a participant in the 2013 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship, received 53 of the maximum 56 points to stand six points clear of Coe College (47 points) and seven clear of Wartburg College (46 points). 

The Kohawks received two first-place votes, two second-place votes, two third-place votes and a fourth-place vote, while the Knights picked up the two remaining first-place votes and five third-place votes. The complete 2013-2014 IIAC Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Poll follows.

Rank    School (1st place votes)  Points   2012-2013 Record
1            Simpson (4)                         53          27-3, 13-1 IIAC
2            Coe (2)                                  47          13-13, 6-8 IIAC
3            Wartburg (2)                         46          16-10, 9-5 IIAC
4            Luther                                    35          13-13, 5-9 IIAC
5            Dubuque                               34          20-8, 8-6 IIAC
6            Loras                                     31          18-9, 7-7 IIAC
7            Buena Vista                          20          12-13, 5-9 IIAC
8            Central                                  14          10-15, 3-11 IIAC

Preseason Polls:  Simpson is ranked 16th in the WBCA/USA TODAY SPORTS Division III Top 25 Coaches’ Poll and is the first team outside the Top 25 in the D3hoops.com Preseason Poll.

New Coach: Chelsea Petersen has been named interim women’s basketball coach at Central College for the 2013-2014 season after the resignation of Mike Jacobsma in August. Petersen, a 2008 Upper Iowa graduate, is in her second year on the Dutch staff. Prior to joining Central, she was an assistant coach at Anderson University (Ind.) from 2009-12.

Opening Games:  The 2013-2014 Iowa Conference women’s basketball season tips off November 15 as five schools – Buena Vista, Central, Coe, Luther and Wartburg – take to the hardwood. Dubuque and Loras open November 16 at the Edgewood Tip-Off Tournament. Simpson will be the final IIAC school to take the court, opening November 17 at AIB College of Business.

Nov. 15 Coe vs. Illinois Tech, at Chicago, Ill., 5 p.m. (Univ. of Chicago Tip-Off Tournament)
Luther vs. Wis.-River Falls, at Eau Claire, Wis., 6 p.m. (Wis.-Eau Claire Tip-Off Tournament)
Central at Grinnell, 7 p.m.
Wartburg at Upper Iowa, 7 p.m.
Buena Vista vs. Clarke, at Mount Vernon, Iowa, 8 p.m. (Cornell Tip-Off Tournament)

Nov. 16 Coe vs. Chicago OR Rockford, at Chicago, Ill., 1 or 3 p.m. (Univ. of Chicago Tip-Off Tournament)
Buena Vista at Cornell, 2 p.m. (Cornell Tip-Off Tournament)
Luther at Wis.-Eau Claire, 5 p.m. (Wis.-Eau Claire Tip-Off Tournament)
Dubuque vs. Wis.-Platteville, at Madison, Wis., 5 p.m. (Edgewood Tip-Off Tournament)
Loras at Edgewood, 7:30 p.m. (Edgewood Tip-Off Tournament)

Nov. 17 Loras vs. Wis.-Platteville, at Madison, Wis., 2 p.m. (Edgewood Tip-Off Tournament)
Dubuque at Edgewood, 4:30 p.m. (Edgewood Tip-Off Tournament)
Simpson at AIB College of Business, 6 p.m.

The 14-date IIAC schedule begins Wednesday, January 8, 2014, with a complete slate of four games.

Team-By-Team Preview:  A brief preview for each Iowa Conference team follows.

Buena Vista University Beavers
12-13 overall, 5-9 (tie-sixth)
Head Coach: Janet Berry (22nd season at BVU; 331-219 overall [21 years])
IIAC Titles (last):  6 (2005)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  1 (2004)
Starters returning/lost –  3 / 2
Letterwinners returning/lost –  6 / 5
All-IIAC players returning –  0
Honorable mention returning – 1 (Kies-13)

Buena Vista returns three starters and six letterwinners from last season’s 12-13 team that tied for sixth in the league with a 5-9 record. The Beavers will be led by senior off-guard Susan Kies. Kies, an honorable mention, was Buena Vista’s leading scorer last season at 13.8 points per game. She shot 36.6 percent (113-of-309) with over half of her makes (60) coming from behind the 3-point line. Kies also shot a team-leading 85.7 percent (60-of-70) from the free-throw line while pulling down 76 rebounds, handing out 64 assists and making 22 steals. She led all IIAC players in 3-pointers made, and ranked second in free-throw percentage, fourth in scoring, seventh in 3-point field goal percentage and eighth in assists.

Senior center Malorie Gilley appeared in all 25 games, starting 15, and averaged 7.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. She led the Beavers in blocks (26), ranked second in rebounds (138) and fourth in steals (26). Gilley also shot a team-high 46.2 percent (72-of-156) from the field. Gilley ranked fifth among IIAC players in blocked shots.

Joining Kies in the backcourt will be junior guard Becca Pennington. She played in all 25 games, starting eight, while ranking fourth on the team in scoring (8.5 ppg) and steals (27) and third in assists (59). Pennington ranked ninth among IIAC players in assists (2.36 per game).

Buena Vista head coach Janet Berry says, “We have a lot of new faces on our team including 12 freshmen and a transfer. Once these women learn our system, I think some of them will be able contribute this season. I think the conference will continue to be tough from top to bottom."

Central College Dutch
10-15 overall, 3-11 IIAC (eighth)
Interim Head Coach: Chelsea Petersen (1st season at CEN; 0-0 overall)
IIAC Titles (last):  6 (1998)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  0 (n/a)
Starters returning/lost –  3 / 2
Letterwinners returning/lost –  7 / 3
All-IIAC players returning – 0
Honorable mention returning – 1 (Vander Molen-13)

Central returns three starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s 10-15 team that finished eighth in the Iowa Conference with a 3-11 record. A trio of junior guards will guide the efforts of the Dutch in the 2013-2014 season. Rachel Evans (junior, guard, Fort Dodge) is Central’s top returning scorer from a year ago. She started all 25 games last season, averaging 8.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game to rank third on the team in scoring, rebounding and assists (46). Evans picked up nearly half (100 of 207) of her points at the free throw line. She also posted a team-high 54 steals, an average of 2.16 per game that ranked third among IIAC players.

Kalli Richardson (junior, guard, Blairsburg, Northeast Hamilton HS) started 19 of the 25 games in which she played, averaging 7.9 points per game while posting a team-high 57 assists and ranking second with 29 steals.

Kenzie Vander Molen (junior, guard, Pella), an honorable mention of the coaches last season, averaged 7.1 points per game with 44 assists and 20 steals. She shot 45.6 percent (36-of-79) from the field, including 36.1 percent (13-of-36) from behind the 3-point line.

Central interim head coach Chelsea Petersen says, “Anytime you look at a basketball season, you’re looking at trying to play a perfect 40 minutes by late in the season. I expect our players to come out and compete every night. We need to learn how to finish in late game situations and that comes down to practice. At the end of the day, we expect to be in games and put ourselves in positions to win those games. A lot of it comes down to practice and preparation.”

“The Iowa Conference is anybody’s game, any night,” Petersen continued. “Simpson was the top team last year and I certainly see them, Wartburg and Dubuque as top contenders. But any team can win it. We will prepare for every game with intensity and focus in order to position ourselves for a win.”

Coe College Kohawks
13-13 overall, 6-8 IIAC (fifth)
Head Coach: Randi Peterson (eighth year at COE [121-71]; 137-81 overall [8 years])
IIAC Titles (last):  2 (2011)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  2 (2012)
Starters returning/lost –  4 / 1
Letterwinners returning/lost –  7 / 5
All-IIAC players returning – 2 (Halvorson, 2nd-13; Hayes, 2nd-12 & 13)
Honorable mention returning – 0

Coe returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last season’s 13-13 squad that placed fifth in the league with a 6-8 mark. Leading the list of returners is senior forward Mary Halvorson. Halvorson, a second-team all-IIAC pick, ranked second on the team behind 2012 IIAC MVP Kayla Waskow in scoring with 10.6 points per game. She shot 46.8 percent (72-of-154) from the field and a team-leading 83.6 percent (45-of-55) from the free-throw line while pulling down 79 rebounds, registering 14 blocks and 18 steals.

Junior post Megan Hayes, a second-team all-conference pick in each of her first two seasons, ranked third on the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game. She also averaged 5.4 rebounds per contest, made a team-high 37 blocks and shot 51.2 percent (111-of-217) from the field. Hayes ranked fourth among IIAC players in blocked shots, ninth in scoring and 12th in rebounding.

Senior forward Mackenzie Reed was fourth on the team in scoring at 7.1 points per game, shooting 41.5 percent (71-of-171) from the field. She also pulled down 57 rebounds, made 23 assists, 12 blocks and 14 steals. Senior forward Hannah Breitbach was Coe’s top 3-point shooter last year, making a team-high 26 attempts out of 95 opportunities. She started 23 of 26 games and pulled down 62 boards, led the Kohawks with 37 steals and was second on the team with 53 assists.

Coe head coach Randi Peterson says, “The IIAC is getting tougher each year. I am impressed with the league, its physicality, and the way each team competes. It creates a fun environment where anyone can win any night. As a team, we have a solid senior class and a good group of underclassman to push each other. If we show up focused and together, we should be ready for the nightly battle the IIAC will provide.”

University of Dubuque Spartans
20-8 overall, 8-6 IIAC (third)
Head Coach: Mark Noll (7th year at DBQ; 84-75 overall [6 years])
IIAC Titles (last):  0
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  0
Starters returning/lost –  4 / 1
Letterwinners returning/lost –  10 / 5
All-IIAC players returning –  0
Honorable mention returning – 1 (Schmidt-13)

Dubuque returns four starters and 10 letterwinners from last year’s 20-8 team that finished third in the conference with a 8-6 league mark. Despite the depth they return, the Spartans will need to find a replacement for the graduated Mollie Whiting, who averaged 23.8 points per game last year and accounted for 34.2 percent of the team’s scoring output. A trio of returning guards ranked second, third and fourth, respectively in scoring for UD last season. Junior Meggie Schmidt appeared in 28 games last season, starting three and averaging 9.3 points per game. She also led the Spartans in 3-point shooting, averaging 35.6 percent (42-of-118) from behind the arc, and had a team-high 54 steals. Schmidt ranked fifth among IIAC players in 3-pointers made and sixth in steals (1.93 per game) and 3-point field goal percentage.

Fellow junior Jessica Goetz averaged 6.6 points per game, making 26 appearance and 25 starts. Goetz posted 81 rebounds, 47 assists and 46 steals, while shooting 36.0 percent (63-of-175) from the field. She ranked eight among IIAC players in steals and ninth in blocked shots. Senior guard Jennifer Fischer played in all 28 games with 27 starts, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. A fourth guard, junior Kayla Springer, started 19 games and averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Senior center Stephany Remakel averaged only 3.4 points per game but posted a team-high 6.2 rebounds per game. She also shot 51.9 percent (42-of-81) from the field.

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Dubuque head coach Mark Noll says, “Our team has been working very hard in the preseason and I believe that we are ready for the rigors of the nonconference schedule as well as the IIAC. We are looking forward to getting all of our players – new and old – on the same page. As always, the IIAC is one of the best D-III conferences for women's basketball in the nation.”

Loras College Duhawks
18-9 overall, 7-7 IIAC (fourth)
Head Coach: Justin Heinzen (7th season at LOR; 79-55 overall [6 years])
IIAC Titles (last):  1 (2003)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  1 (2003)
Starters returning/lost –  1 / 4
Letterwinners returning/lost –  9 / 5
All-IIAC players returning –  1 (Langmeier, 1st-12, DPOY-12)
Honorable mention returning – 0

Loras returns nine letterwinners but just one starter from last year’s 18-9 team that finished fourth in the league with a 7-7 mark. The lone returning starter is senior forward Katie Langmeier, a first-team all-conference selection and the league’s co-Defensive Player of the Year. Langmeier led the Duhawks in scoring (9.3 ppg), steals (51), made field goals (82) and made free throws (87) and ranked second in rebounds (168) and blocks (10). She ranked second among IIAC player in offensive rebounds (3.33 rpg), seventh in steals, eighth in field-goal percentage and ninth in rebounding

Senior guard/forward Katie Wheeler, who played in 25 games with 23 starts, ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 7.1 points per game and third in rebounds at 5.1 boards per contest. She also ranked second on the team in steals (37).

Sophomore guard Kaitlin Phillips made 18 appearances with two starts, averaging 6.1 points per game, while junior forward Victoria May averaged 2.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in 20 appearances.

Loras head coach Justin Heinzen says, “This year’s team is very athletic and has a nice blend of youth and experience. Fusing will take a little time but with our schedule and energy thus far, I feel very good about the potential of this group as the season progresses. I think the league will be very strong and could very well produce multiple tournament teams again.”

Luther College Norse
13-13 overall, 5-9 IIAC (tie-sixth)
Head Coach: Amanda Bailey (3rd season at LUT; 19-32 overall [2 years])
IIAC Titles (last):  7 (2007)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last): 1 (2007)
Starters returning/lost –  5 / 0
Letter winners returning/lost –  7 / 0
All-IIAC players returning – 2 (Johnson, 1st-13, 2nd-12; Meagan Koepnick, 2nd-13)
Honorable mention returning – 0

Luther returns all five starters and seven letterwinners from last year’s 13-13 team that tied for sixth in the Conference with a 5-9 mark. Senior forward Taylor Johnson, a two-time all-conference pick, will lead the Norse into the 2013-2014 campaign. Johnson led the team in nearly every statistical category last season - scoring (430 points), rebounding (255), blocked shots (25), assists (70), steals (28), field goals made (162), free throws (105) and field goal percentage (45.9 percent; 162-of-353) and ranked second in free-throw percentage (80.2 percent; 105-of-131). She ranked second among IIAC players rebounding, third in scoring, fourth in free throw percentage, fifth in assists and seventh in field goal percentage and blocked shots.

In the backcourt, Luther will be led by junior Meagan Koepnick and senior Logan Hjerleid. Koepnick, a second team all-IIAC pick last year, ranked third on the team in scoring at 11.0 points per game and fourth in rebounds at 4.2 per game. She ranked second on the team with 69 assists and third with 25 steals, while shooting a league-leading 87.0 percent (80-of-92) from the free-throw line. The team’s top 3-point shooter, Koepnick shot a team-best 50.0 percent (37-of-74) from behind the arc. She ranked second among IIAC players in 3-point shooting, seventh in scoring, assists and made 3-pointers and 12th in field-goal percentage (43.4 percent; 26-of-85).

Hjerleid started all 26 games last season, averaging 5.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. She ranked third on the team with 38 assists.

Luther head coach Amanda Bailey says, “This year will be the test for our program as we continue to grow and compete with a mix of returners and new faces. We are excited for the season ahead, and look forward to starting Conference play.”

Simpson College Storm
27-3 overall, 13-1 IIAC (champion)
Head Coach: Brian Niemuth (27th season at SIM; 505-196 overall [26 years])
IIAC Titles (last):  12 (2013)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  7 (2011)
Starters returning/lost –  1 / 4
Letterwinners returning/lost – 8 / 5
All-IIAC players returning – 0
Honorable mention returning – 0

Simpson returns eight letterwinners but just one starter from last season’s 27-3 squad that went 13-1 in league play to capture the program’s 12th crown overall and sixth in succession. The Storm also made its ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, falling to Wisconsin-Whitewater, 76-63, in a first-round game. The top four scorers from a year ago are gone, meaning sophomore forward Brooke Panzer, at 6.2 points per game, is the team’s top returning scorer. Panzer started all 30 games as a freshman, shooting 42.0 percent (68-of-162) from the field and 73.5 percent (50-of-68) from the free-throw line. She also ranked second on the team in rebounding at 4.9 per game.

Sophomore guard Whitney Van Wyk played in 29 games last season, averaging 4.5 points per game. She also contributed 29 assists, 10 blocks, 35 steals and 46 rebounds while shooting 36.6 percent (45-of-123) from the field. Van Wyk also shot 30.5 percent (25-of-82) from 3-point range.

Sophomore forward Morgan Mauro played in all 30 games a year ago, averaging 3.5 points in 13.1 minutes per game. She also shot 34.6 percent (28-of-81) from behind the 3-point arc.

Simpson head coach Brian Niemuth says, “[We’re] looking forward to competing with the talented teams and great coaching staffs in our league. We are young and hopefully will learn quickly what it takes to compete in our league.”

Wartburg College Knights
16-10 overall, 9-5 IIAC (second)
Head Coach: Bob Amsberry (eighth year at WAR [115-67]; 16th year overall [246-174])
IIAC Titles (last):  5 (2003)
IIAC Tourney Titles (last):  2 (2002)
Starters returning/lost –  2 / 3
Letterwinners returning/lost –  9 / 7
All-IIAC players returning – 1 (Kladivo, 2nd-13)
Honorable mention returning – 0  

Wartburg returns two starters and nine letterwinners from last season’s 16-10 squad that finished second in the regular season standings with a 9-5 record. Senior guard Carly Jacobs ranked second on the team in scoring last season at 9.8 points per game. The Knights’ top 3-point shooter, she shot 32.5 percent (54-of-166) from behind the 3-point line. Overall, she shot 35.0 percent (83-of-237) from the field and 69.2 percent (36-of-52) from the free-throw line and averaged 2.5 rebounds per game. Jacobs ranked second among IIAC players in 3-pointers made and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage.

Sophomore forward Kailey Kladivo, a second-team all-conference pick last season, ranked third on the team in scoring at 9.7 points per game and second in rebounding at 5.3 boards per contest. She led all IIAC players in field-goal percentage, hitting at a 54.4 percent (105-of-193) clip from the field.

Wartburg head coach Bob Amsberry says, “I really don't see a clear-cut favorite in the league this year and I am sure several teams think they should be in the mix. The parity may be the best it has been in quite some time. We will need some players to step into some new roles for us if we expect to be there at the end of the season.


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