The Mount Union women’s basketball program is primed for another deep run in the playoffs this year.
Improving each and every year, they have put together quite a string of success (16-9 in 2009, 26-5 in 2010, 26-4 in 2011).
Going 28-2 last year, with their only two losses coming at the hands of Otterbein early in the season and in the NCAA Tournament to eventual national champions Illinois Wesleyan, the Lady Raiders are driven and focused this year under the direction of head coach Suzy Venet.
“Every second counts. We lost on the buzzer last season and we have to play every position out. It was a heart wrenching loss for our seniors and our team, but life goes on. The sun came up the next day and we still have to live another day,” said Venet. “I won’t let them lose focus. They’ll get an earful from me if I think we do and we’ll start running sprints,” she added.
The team is ranked sixth in the nation and has started the season off right with a 2-0 start. Of these two wins, they beat last year’s National Champion and currently ranked fifth in the nation team, Illinois Wesleyan, 73-68.
The team is very balanced and experienced this year. All-American Point Guard Senior Rosa LaMattina, Senior Tierney Allen, Sophomore Nancy Osborne, Senior Marybeth Leitch and Senior Center Brittany Kilgore, returning from injury, round out the starting five.
With Kilgore, and the arrival of up and coming Sophomore Aly Daniel, who will be coming off the bench for the Lady Raiders, the team will be able to take control.
“We need Brittany and Aly to control the boards and make up for our two 1,000 point scorers we lost last year. I think, with that combo, we may have the best two centers in the OAC” said Coach Venet.
Their bench consists of many players who can provide immediate spark upon entering the game. Freshman Annie Bova will receive some solid playing time to add to the young talent for the future. Seniors Maggie Miller, Kensie Kemble, Junior Amanda Turner, and Sophomore Chandler Moore bring much experience to the team.
The Lady Raiders’ playing style this year will be a fast paced, up-tempo offense that will push the ball on fast breaks.
“Our offense starts on defense,” said Coach Venet, “but it’s our goal to score 72 points per game. We’re going to play a pressing, unselfish style of basketball,” she added.
That unselfishness is cultivated by the team’s chemistry. Coach Venet says that it makes her job easy when all of the players are on the same page. She added that team chemistry is paramount to women’s athletics, and is something that needs to be worked on throughout the season.
The Lady Raiders are picked to finish first in the OAC once again. The team’s goal, as well as the expectation on campus, is well known. The bar is set high, but with the talent on this team, it is more than an attainable goal.