2016-17 Season Outlook
For the second year in a row the women’s basketball program is under the direction of a new head coach. Although this year the change in leadership has an element of familiarity as Bill DeRuiter, who assisted the team last year, takes over as interim head coach. DeRuiter will provide some continuity for the team while bringing his own style and vision for the program.
“I look forward to working with the team this year and am optimistic about what they can accomplish,” said DeRuiter. “We will learn some new things and make some changes, but will benefit from having a common base to work from. I will be able to use the relationships that already exist to strengthen the team.”
While the team did not have great success in the win-loss column a year ago and ended with a 3-26 overall and a 2-17 conference record as they adjusted to a new coach and system, they bring back a strong group of veteran players and look to make forward strides. They return 10 athletes to their 14-player roster and many of those returners have starting experience. Especially strong is a core of juniors, who have been a significant part of the line-up for the past two seasons. In addition the team has added four new players, including a couple who have collegiate experience.
“In the preseason, the transition in leadership has gone well,” said DeRuiter. “It helps that I know the players’ strengths and what they are capable of. We are concentrating on keeping things fairly basic and straight forward and learning to read and react and to take advantage of what our opponents give us.”
The Trolls are hopeful and confident about making gains this year, but they understand that their schedule will be challenging again with strong conference competition. Their goal is to be competitive in every game and to be in position to advance to the conference tournament at the end of the season. They know they will have to win the beatable games and as well as pull off a couple of upsets.
The team will call on the leadership and experience of a roster that consists of a large number of upperclassmen. The five juniors on the team have had significant playing experience in the past two seasons and will provide the bulk of the line-up this year. Overall, the team will be strong on the wing and guard play as they have many players that fit that position. With the addition of some height they will also be stronger in the post than they have been recently.
The key players for the Trolls are a trio of juniors who have significant starting or court-time experience. Bethany Jansma (Wheatfield, Indiana) is a player-maker and helps direct the offensive. A year ago she led the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game while also averaging 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists. She earned North Central All-Region honors. Celina Wanta (West Bend, Indiana) provides leadership in the forward or post position. She ranked second on the team a year ago in both scoring and rebounding with 9.7 point and 4.7 rebound averages. She also is a key defender and led the team with 2.3 steals per game and ranked in the top the conference in steals. Junior Lauren Stokes (DeMotte, Indiana) also factors into the line-up as she provides strong guard play and can get to the hoop. Coming off the bench last year, she averaged 7.7 points and 4.0 rebounds.
The other two juniors that will be a part of the line-up are Katie Moran (Naperville, Illinois) and Kelsie Foster (New Lenox, Illinois). Moran, who was a starter last season, is a defensive presence with her long frame. She plays a guard position and averaged 5.4 points and 3.6 rebounds last year. Foster, a 5-9 forward, can play multiple positions. She led the team in rebounding a year ago with 4.9 rebounds per game and added 7.2 points per game.
The team has three seniors on the roster that furnish experience. Samantha Andringa (South Holland, Illinois) has been with the basketball program for four seasons and provides leadership as a captain. Also bringing valuable upperclassmen guidance is Molly Toepper (Manteno, Illinois). Kara Cunningham (Chicago, Illinois), who is in her third season, adds depth to the guard position.
Two sophomores, who both gained experience last season, return to the roster. Alexis Knake (Cissna Park, Illinois) played in almost every game last year and she adds a good mid-range game. Jessica Bianchi (Elmhurst, Illinois) brings guard experience when she joins the team after her soccer season is completed.
The newcomers on the team are a pair of sophomore transfers and a pair of freshmen. One of those rookies who will look to make an impact is Breanna Toppen (DeMotte, Indiana), who scored over 1,000 career points as a four-year varsity starter at Kankakee Valley High School. She understands the game and will help direct the team at the point guard position. Sophomore Brianna Markusic (Bridgeview, Illinois) transferred from MacMurray College where she earned Newcomer of the Year for their conference. She will bring that experience and gives the team a strong post presence.
Adding depth to the forward position are the other two newcomers. Sophomore Regan Cross (Ada, Michigan) brings a year of collegiate experience as she transfers from Grand Rapids Community College. Freshman Carissa Wisse (Oostburg, Wisconsin) adds needed height as well as provides energy.
Trinity starts their 30-game schedule on October 27 in a home game with the University of Michigan-Dearborn. That game is one of a group of non-conference games that will provide solid competition for the team. Those contests included a number of new opponents such as UM-Dearborn, Waldorf University (Iowa), St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (Indiana), Andrews University (Michigan), Great Lakes Christian College (Michigan), and Maranatha Baptist University (Wisconsin). Trinity will play the majority of those games in the first semester and will use them to prepare for the conference competition.
The 19-game conference schedule will once again be strong as the CCAC has six teams in the NAIA preseason national rankings. Across the board the team will be challenged in each of those games. Their conference schedule begins on November 16 at home against Olivet Nazarene University.