2018-19 Season Outlook

The 2018-19 women’s basketball team will have a significantly different look than it did a year ago. The Trolls, who finished 17-17 overall and 11-9 in the conference last season, return only five players to their 14-player roster.  However they have filled those vacated positions with capable players and are excited to begin the new season and to see what it brings.

“I am very confident in the personnel that we have this season and believe that we will continue to make forward strides,” said third-year coach Bill DeRuiter. “It may take a little while for us to gel, but we have the talent to be a contender.”

The five returning players on the team include one senior, one junior, and three sophomores. While only one of those was in the starting line-up a year ago, they all contributed on the court.  They also provide positive leadership and a strong work ethic.  In addition, the roster includes one player who was with the team last season as a red-shirted player. Her familiarity with the team and the system will help her transition on the court this year.

Filling in the gaps and providing immediate impact will be a group of upperclassmen transfer players. They will use their experience to find a place on the floor and will give the team a stability that it would otherwise lack with the absence of the large number of players from a year ago. In addition the other newcomers to the roster have the ability to make a difference.

“I am optimistic about what we can accomplish this year,” commented DeRuiter. “Even though we have lost a lot from last year, we have gained a lot and have the players needed. I like the look of our team and am excited to see what our players will accomplish. I think we may surprise a few people this year.”

Overall the team has a good balance of guard and forward play. They have players that can score from long-range as well as get to the hoops. The team’s post play will take a more prominent role this season as they have added players who will be a presence in the paint. The team will continue their up-tempo style of play and also call on their defense to help dictate the flow of the game.

The Trolls will look to Breanna Toppen (DeMotte, Indiana) as a team leader. The junior co-captain is the only returning starter. A year ago she averaged 9.7 points and 2.3 rebounds. She is a proficient three-point shooter at .382 percent and an accurate at the free throw line with a .848 percent last year.  

Finding their place in the starting line-up at the guard position will be a pair of transfer players. Junior Kyla Pitts (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) will take over the point guard responsibilities. She played for two seasons at Bryant and Stratton College and brings quickness and the ability to drive to the hoop. She also possesses good ball handling skills. Junior Bailey Larsen (Bloomington, Illinois), who has two years of experience at Illinois Central College, provides stability, hard work, and scoring ability. She is coming off an injury that may limit her in the early season, but she will make a difference as the season progresses.

Returning senior Alexis Knake (Cissna Park, Illinois) will also help out in the guard play. She is the team’s only four-year player and came off the bench in almost every game in her previous three seasons. As a co-captain she provides stable leadership. Also returning to the guard position is sophomore Val Guzman (Coal City, Illinois). She provided minutes off the bench last year and gained experience that will translate to a more prominent role this season.  Brenna Groenewold (Waupun, Wisconsin) is an incoming freshman who will be able to provide valuable minutes. She will also play in junior varsity games to help her develop into the collegiate game.

Among the forwards the Trolls will look to incoming junior transfer Jasmine Elliott (Kankakee, Illinois) to make a big difference and immediate impact. After playing her freshman year at Illinois Central College, she earned Second-Team All-American honors last year at Kankakee Community College. Elliott provides a strong presence on the court, can score from various positions, can handle the ball, and is strong on the boards.  

Joining Elliott and giving team more of an inside game will be junior Brianna Markusic (Bridgeview, Illinois) and freshman Aubrey Goorman (North Shores, Michigan). Markusic, who red-shirted last year, adds a presence in the paint and will be able to help the team on the boards. Goorman will see the court as a rookie as she is a versatile player that can score from the outside, but also will have to be respected in the paint which will help relieve some pressure off the guards.

In addition sophomores Ellie Stevens (Bloomington, Illinois) and Alyssa Mulligan (LaPorte, Indiana) return to the forward position. Both of these players gained experience last year and will be relied on more this season. Freshman Olivia Schuringa (Villa Park, Illinois) gives the team more options in the post as she develops into the collegiate game. The team will also be able to call on junior Abbigal Nienhuis (Zeeland, Michigan), who joins the team this season after playing on the women’s soccer team for two years, and freshman Courtney Brown (Hometown, Illinois).

The Trolls open their 30-game schedule on October 24 at home against Cornerstone University. Overall the team will play in 10 non-conference games of which nine are in the first semester. Besides Cornerstone, the team faces Lincoln College, Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Taylor University, and Clarke University in November. In mid-December they play Wheaton College at home. Also in that month the team will make a trip to Florida to take on Florida College as well as play in exhibition games at Rollins College and Southeastern University, and a trip to Iowa where they will face Northwestern College and Dordt College. The final non-conference game is on January 2 against Indiana University-Northwest.

Trinity has a 20-game conference schedule in which they face seven of the other 13 CCAC opponents twice and six teams once. The Trolls open league play on November 14 at home against Governors State University. They have seven conference games in the first semester and will start CCAC play again on January 5 for the second semester. The conference season wraps up on February 16 and the CCAC Tournament runs from February 20-25.  As has been the pattern, the Trolls will have to break into the top favorites of Saint Xavier University, University of St. Francis, Olivet Nazarene University, and Cardinal Stritch, all of which are in the NAIA Coaches’ Poll Top 25, to earn a position in the top of the CCAC standings.