Coach Curtis, 12 returners ready to move Bluffton College forward in 2002-03By Tim Stried
November 5, 2002
|12 letterwinners return for Bluffton in 2002-03, including #32 Melissa James, #40 Erica Rock, #25 Paula Fry and #10 Lindsey Delscamp.|
A season of new beginnings awaits the Bluffton College women's basketball team in 2002-03 and first year head coach Amanda Curtis has already determined one of the things that BC needs to do to bring the program back to the level of success that it had grown accustomed to.
"We need to turn it around attitude-wise," said Curtis, who takes over the Bluffton program after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Akron last season. "We need to build a foundation by changing the attitude from last year. This group has a lot of potential and the players need to be dedicated to work at it."
All 12 players who were members of the squad at the close of last season return and are ready to erase the memory of last season's 0-25 record, and with a new coaching staff and seven new players, the Beavers are ready to take steps forward to be a contender in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Bluffton had averaged nearly 12 wins per season over the seven years prior to last year's campaign and had advanced to the HCAC tournament semi-finals every season since the league formed in 1998. All five starters graduated after the 2000-01 season, however, and head coach Michele Durand, who won a school record 121 games in 11 seasons, departed for Ohio Northern University.
Without a senior on the roster last year, a rebuilding season was bound to take place. With that experience under their belts, now, Coach Curtis is pushing the players to take the next step.
"The players need to become rededicated to the sport," said Curtis, who will be joined by assistant coach Laura Goins this season. "They can still have fun, but we need to teach them how to work hard. We need a change in work ethic and we need to get that in place this year."
Seven seniors are in place to lead the team in 2002-03, including Heather Demery, Paula Fry, Liesel Hughett, Melissa James, Lyndsey Robinson, Erica Rock and Kristen Siller. Joining them are four juniors, three sophomores and five freshmen.
The trio of Robinson, James and junior Karen Harris led Bluffton in most statistical categories last year and were among the HCAC leaders in several of those categories.
Robinson (11.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg) ranked ninth in the HCAC in scoring and fifth in rebounding last season. She was named the HCAC player-of-the-week once and was named the team's most-improved-player at the end of the season. She totaled six double-doubles during the season and her 203 total rebounds was the fourth-highest single season total in BC history.
James (9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 47 ast.) ranked 15th in the HCAC in scoring, 10th in rebounding and shot 83.3% from the free throw line (40-for-48), which was the second-highest single season percentage in BC history. She has played in all 77 varsity games during her three years at BC and her career free throw percentage of 74.6% currently ranks fourth in school history.
Harris (6.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 70 ast., 69 stl.) led the HCAC in steals last season and ranked eighth in assists. Her 69 steals a year ago was the fourth-highest single season total in BC history and her 102 career steals already ranks 13th in BC history.
Seniors Demery (2.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg), Siller (1.5 ppg, .9 rpg), Fry (1.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg) and Rock (1.2 ppg, 1.1 rpg) all return after their first seasons as varsity contributors last year, while Hughett is in her first year of collegiate basketball.
In addition to Harris, juniors Lindsay Bacon, Kelsey Studer and Erica Tartt are all back. Bacon (6.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg) hit a team-high 19 3-pointers last season and added 38 assists and 17 steals. Studer (1.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg) added depth at the wing and Tartt returns after playing with the junior varsity squad as a freshman.
Three sophomores that were members of the varsity last year as freshmen are back, including Cara Young, Christina Champion and Lindsey Delscamp. Young (3.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg) is one of two 6'1" post players on the team this year and fashioned a team-high .427 field goal percentage last season. Champion (.6 ppg, .8 rpg) proved very capable at a guard position but missed much of the season with an injury, while Delscamp (.3 ppg, .4 rpg) also saw action at guard.
Among the five freshmen are Michelle DeVault (5-8, Fostoria/Hopewell-Loudon H.S.), Donnieka Johnson (5-7, Lima/Senior H.S.), Kristin Light (5-5, Mishawaka, Ind./Penn H.S.), Karin Schaller (6-1, Jenera/Arlington H.S.) and Mandy Wightman (5-7, West Salem/Black River H.S.).
Bluffton has a favorable early season schedule, as the Beavers' first four games are all at home. The 2002-03 season tips off on Fri., Nov. 22 as Adrian College (Mich.) visits Founders Hall at 7 p.m.