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2010-11 Calvin Women’s Basketball Outlook

Thursday, November 04, 2010

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2010-11 Calvin Women's Basketball Schedule

The Calvin women’s basketball team will seek to continue the momentum of a 24-5 campaign of a year ago. The Knights parlayed the 24-win season into their first NCAA III Tournament appearance in four years.

The Knights are also ranked in three national pre-season polls as they are ranked 19th by Women’s Division III News, 20th in the USA Today/ESPN Division III Coaches Poll and 24th in the Top 25 poll.

Calvin returns two starters and nine letterwinners from its 2009-10 team. Returning starters include 5-11 junior forward Courtney Kurncz (St. Johns, MI/St. Johns HS) and 6-2 sophomore center Carissa Verkaik (Holland, MI/Holland Christian HS). Other returning letterwinners include 5-3 senior guard Leah Morrison (Chelsea, MI/Chelsea HS), 5-6 senior guard Allie Duernberger (Long Beach, CA/Corona Del Mar HS), 5-7 junior point guard Leah Mattson (Cadillac, MI/Cadillac HS), 5-6 junior guard Jill Thomas (Grand Rapids, MI/West Catholic HS), 5-5 sophomore guard Kelsey Irwin (Fraser, MI/Fraser HS), 5-11 sophomore forward Ally Wolffis (Muskegon, MI/Mona-Shores HS) and 6-0 sophomore post Julia Hilbrands (Grand Rapids, MI/Grand Rapids Christian HS).

Verkaik is coming off a landmark freshman campaign that saw her average 18.1 points and 9.4 rebounds a game, en route to becoming the first freshmen in MIAA women’s basketball history to be named the league MVP. In addition to earning a spot on the All-MIAA first team, she was named the National Freshman of the Year and was also named to the All-America third team. She also landed post-season All-America accolades from Women’s DIII News and has been named a pre-season All-American by the same publication this fall. During a February 17 victory over Adrian, she established a Calvin and MIAA single-game scoring record with 46 points, connecting on 18-of-20 shots from the field including all three of her attempts from three-point range as well as a 7-of-8 showing at the free throw line. On the year, she connected on 56.9 percent of her field goal attempts and 82.4 percent of her free throw attempts. She also tallied 11 double-doubles (points and rebounds) during the season.

Kurncz averaged 5.9 points and 3.7 rebounds a game in her first year as a full-time starter last year. She notched a career-high 13 points in a win over Saint Mary’s in the MIAA Tournament semifinals. Morrison brings speed and quickness to Calvin’s backcourt. She averaged a point a game while appearing in 21 games last year. She was also a member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. Duernberger appeared in 21 games, averaging 1.2 points per contest.

Mattson and Thomas fill out the returning players in the junior class. Mattson has seen significant time at the point guard spot, starting in eight games last year while starting point guard Emily Ottenhoff was completing her season with the Calvin women’s soccer team. She averaged 2.8 points, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. In a December victory at Manchester, she scored a career-high 14 points which included four three-pointers. Thomas has been a strong player off the bench at the shooting guard spot. She averaged 3.1 points per outing last season while connecting on 23 triples which ranked fourth on the team. Thomas opened the season with a career-high 12 points in a win over Cornerstone.

Irwin is another sharp-shooter to watch. The southpaw swished in 30 triples during her freshman campaign, connecting on nearly 40 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc. She notched double-digits in scoring three times including pair of 12-point performances. She also connected on at least one three-pointer in 15 of Calvin’s 29 games. Irwin was also named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll at the conclusion of the 2009-10 academic year.

Wolffis and Hilbrands will be part of Calvin’s post rotation. A power forward, Wolffis appeared in all 29 games in 2010, averaging 6.6 points and 3.5 rebounds a game while connecting on 50.4 percent of her field goal attempts. She tallied a career-high 16 points in a January 30 victory over Kalamazoo College. Hillbrands served as a back-up in the post but will push for more playing time this winter after a strong offseason. A two-sport athlete, Hillbrands also serves as a middle-blocker on Calvin’s nationally-ranked women’s volleyball team. As a freshman last year, Hillbrands averaged 3.1 points and 2.8 rebounds a game while hitting on 50.8 percent of her field goal attempts. She was also named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll.

Calvin welcomes two transfers to the roster in 5-8 junior Heather DeKleine (Hudsonville, MI/Unity Christian HS) and 5-6 sophomore point guard Logan Marsh (Byron Center, MI/Byron Center HS). A heady player with the ability to play on the perimeter or down low, DeKleine comes to Calvin from Gordon College (MA) where she averaged 14.7 points,  6.8 rebounds a game and 4.5 assists per game. She is a legacy Calvin women’s basketball player as her mother Sharon (Boeve) DeKleine was a standout player for Calvin in the 1980s, receiving the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1983. Marsh is a transfer from Aquinas College. The southpaw was named to the 2008-09 All-WHAC Newcomer team, averaging 6.4 points a game.  Marsh did not play last winter.

Remaining newcomers to the roster include 5-10 sophomore Michaelia Breuker (Fremont, MI/Fremont HS), 5-11 freshman post Caitlyn Patterson (Rockford, MI/Rockford HS), 5-6 freshman guard Ashley Tiefenthal (Manistee, MI/Manistee HS) and 5-6 freshman point guard Kirstin Tripp (Brighton, MI/Brighton HS).

Calvin will open its season on November 16, hosting Manchester College at 7:30 p.m. at Van Noord Arena. The Knights will then compete at the Wisconsin-Lutheran Tip-Off Tournament November 19 and 20 and will face national power Wisconsin-Whitewater with Heidelberg and Wisconsin-Lutheran filling out the tournament. Calvin will also compete at a Thanksgiving classic hosted by MIAA member Olivet College with the Knights meeting cross-town rival Aquinas on November 26 and Indiana University-South Bend on November 27. Calvin will open its MIAA season on December 1, traveling to Adrian College for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. On December 8, the Knights will host nationally-ranked Carthage, a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the 2010 NCAA III Tournament. Another non-conference highlight will include a Christmas trip to Los Angeles with Calvin competing at a tournament hosted by Cal-Lutheran University. Calvin will face Wesleyan (CT) on December 30 and host Cal-Lutheran on December 31.

The MIAA Tournament is scheduled for February 22, 24 and 26.

Pre-Season Audio Interview with Women’s Basketball Coach John Ross

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