With Pre-Season Success, Bulldogs Look To Continue Strong Play As They Prepare For League
As the Bellevue College Bulldogs women’s basketball program prepares for the 2011-12 NWAACC season, the team looks to build off last year’s 2nd Place finish in the North Region and 5Th Place finish in the NWAACC tournament. Head Coach Brent Hermanson who is entering his 5th year believes the key to improving with this year’s squad will consist of the team staying up on their classwork, staying healthy, and being dealt a little bit of luck along the way. Bellevue has a good number of returners who earned substantial playing time a season ago. However, with the loss of last year’s key sophomores Kelly Sutherland (1st Team All-NWAACC), Olivia Lewis, and Phyllea Francis, minutes are available. Every year, it is understood that you will lose your sophomores as they move on, but it is the unexpected that can be tough to cope with as the Bulldogs suffered a devastating early season blow with the loss of 1st Team All-Region sophomore Anne-Claire Den Hartog to a ruptured achilles which will sideline her for the season. When asked about what impact this will play on the team, Coach Hermanson stated, “she offered some dynamics that are going to be tough to replace.”
On the positive, the Bulldogs are confident as they head into the year. Sophomore returner Sanda Milovic will be expected to carry a large load due to her super athleticism, versatility, and ability to present mismatches with opposing defenses. With great size and an ability to touch the rim, Milovic is expected to factor as a “big time player” in the Bulldogs successes over the year. Along with Milovic, defensive specialist Kelsey Sparks returns to the lineup as Hermanson mentioned her role on the team very clearly; “to shut down the opposing teams’ best guard.” Sparks possesses “Division I athleticism” according to Hermanson while providing the Bulldogs with great potential to score. Joining the core of returning guards is Sophomore Brianna Shannon. She is also coming off a solid freshman campaign as Coach labeled Shannon as the “engine that makes the team go.” Over the course of the pre-season, Shannon has lead the team in distributing the basketball averaging 5 assists/game; an area the coaching staff including assistants Paulette Martin, Carly Fromdahl, Angela Jensen, and Jodi Cameron were hoping she would improve.
Adding depth and maintaining toughness to the team this year is important as the team hopes to return to Kennewick for the NWAACC Championship Tournament. Freshman and member of the state championship team at Federal Way HS, Brittany Barrington, or “Little Bear,” will be looked at early to impact the team. Barrington who is transitioning from a shooting guard to a point, provides the team with added strength, toughness, and ability to attack the rim. Barrington’s presence will play well with sophomore returner Taylor Wofford, a forward who saw limited action last season due to an ACL injury. Coach stated that Wofford is “the toughest kid I have ever coached.” With a fearless approach, Wofford could play a large role in the paint due to the loss of DenHartog for the year. Along with Wofford, freshman Ashley Page out of Gig Harbor HS will be expected to provide an inside presence for the Bulldogs down the stretch. Page offers great size at 6’ 1” along with strength and athleticism. With some seasoning, the coaches are excited to watch Page’s development. When the going get tough, the Bulldogs will look to their “Junkyard Bulldog” as quoted by Hermanson, sophomore Monica Olivas who specializes on the defensive end of the floor with a fast motor, great work-ethic, and “sharp elbows”. Olivas is another player that will be looked at to fill the losses from a year ago.
The coaches have been extremely happy with the new faces in the program. Starting with freshman forward DeMarea Caples out of Garfield HS, Caples had a great showing in the teams opening tournament at Everett earning all-tournament team honors along with Milovic. Caples was labeled as an “unselfish gamer” that improves Bellevue’s versatility. Hermanson has high expectations for Caples in her first year with the team. Another freshman that is expected to be an impact right away is forward Jordyn Ohrt out of Redmond HS. Ohrt gives the team added height standing 6’0” tall and an advanced maturity from her high school and AAU playing days. Ohrt’s experience in big games proved evident as she led the Bulldogs’ scoring attack in the championship game while winning the Everett Classic. Hermanson stated, “When Jordyn gets comfortable with our system, she will be a big time player for us.”
Lastly, the Bulldogs will look to 1st year players who have experience at the college level to maximize the depth of the team. Redshirt freshman guard Rachel Rohrbaugh offers added experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, as Rohrbaugh continues to improve on the offensive end, she will factor into the rotation. Edmonds CC transfer Courtney Batts is another solid player that can fill minutes, is noted for great defense, and is a system player who plays for the team and fulfills multiple roles. Alongside Batts, sophomore Corinna Van Hurston transferred in from the University of Great Falls (MT). Originally out of Liberty HS, Van Hurston is coming off an ACL injury and is a threat from beyond the arc. Van Hurston will be looked at to flourish against teams that play a zone defense where she can showcase her shot and force teams into a man defense, where Coach Hermanson feels they have an edge with the matchups that can be created.
All in all, this year’s team is tough with a great balance of returners and newcomers. Coach Hermanson stressed the importance of the team focusing on their academics and staying healthy to help ensure depth over the course of the year. With a preseason ranking of 6th in NWAACC and a tournament crowning at the Everett Classic, there are high expectations in the air for the women’s team as they prepare for league play starting in January. Bellevue continues non-conference games this weekend while hosting the BC Women’s Annual Classic.
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