2016-17 Women's Basketball
Women's Hoops Season Preview
November 10, 2016
By: Colton Steiner, sports information assistant
BLUFFTON, Ohio - After having the best season in program history, the Bluffton University women’s basketball team is looking to pick up where they left off in March. The Beavers finished the 2015-16 season with a record of 25-3 and an HCAC championship for the first time in school history. They started last season winning their first 18 games which shattered the previous school record of six consecutive victories. The 25 wins also broke the previous high-water mark of 18 set in 2014-15. Despite losing six seniors, Bluffton still has its eyes on winning the Heartland Conference and getting back to the NCAA tournament.
“We are able to use last year to set the bar for what we think we can accomplish,” said reigning HCAC and Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year Chad Shutler. “I expect us to compete nightly to achieve the goals that we are going to set. We have raised the bar for the program to another level and we want to hold our kids accountable to achieve as much and as close to it as they can.”
Bluffton’s pressure defense last year was key to being successful on the other end of the floor. Allowing only 57.5 points per game, the Beaver offense put up 72 points per game. Bluffton had an equitable scoring spread as four players averaged over 10.0 points per game. After losing six seniors, two of which eclipsed 1,000 career points, there are adjustments that the Beavers will need to make.
The Beavers welcomed eight incoming freshman for the upcoming season. They are joined by three seniors, four juniors and two sophomores. “The biggest thing that we are going to miss from last year to this year is bench support,” said Coach Shutler. “I think we were deeper and more experienced last year. For us to be where we want to be, it is going to require a combination of maturing, understanding, and keeping things simple and progressing while getting better every day.”
The Beavers were strong on the boards, finishing second in the conference to Rose-Hulman with 39.6 rebounds per game. Distributing the ball was another Bluffton strength as the Beavers led the HCAC with 16.9 assists per game. However, Coach Shutler stated “We have a long way to go defensively. Guarding the ball and rotating are things we’ll have to work on to get where we want to be.”
Despite the inexperience, there are three All-Heartland Conference honorees back to lead the Beavers in 2016-17. Senior RACHEL BEINING (Ottoville), and juniors MACEY SHEERER (Bucyrus) and KAYCEE ROWE (Harrod/Allen East) were crucial to Bluffton’s success last year when the Beavers made their storybook run to the NCAA Tournament.
“Some of those players that played considerable roles last year like Kaycee, Macey and Rachel will obviously be big from a production standpoint,” said Shutler. “We have veterans that will play crucial roles this year and we also have some incoming freshmen that are talented. The fun part for me is piecing it all together and seeing them develop, mature and improve as the year goes on.”
Bluffton will open up its season on Friday, Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. when they face Waynesburg at the Penn State-Behrend Tip-Off. Heartland Conference action tips on Saturday, Dec. 3, with a trip to Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky.
“Each year is a new experience,” Shutler said. “Even though we were thrilled to be where we were last year, it’s a brand new beginning for this group. We have motivated kids that are leaders both on and off the court so I’m excited to see how this year unfolds!”