2009-10 Women's Basketball Season Review
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GOSHEN, Ind. - In most cases, when looking back at a season completed, coaches see their teams from multiple vantage points. The ability to see both the negative and the positive allows the coach to correct deficiencies, while also continuing to encourage improvement in other areas.
Cue the 2009-10 Goshen College women's basketball season. Ninth-year head coach Steve Wiktorowski is the first to admit that a 10-20 overall record would not be widely considered a successful campaign. But Wiktorowski also is able to see the potential growth of his Maple Leaf squad.
"The season was positive from the standpoint that we were the most competitive that we have been in the conference for several years playing mostly underclassmen," Wiktorowski explained. "It was also frustrating from the standpoint that our record did not really reflect the improved level of play over recent seasons. We put ourselves in positions to win a lot of games, but always seemed to have about a five minute breakdown that prevented us from getting the actual 'W'."
In fact, in their 20 losses, eight of those came by less than 10 points and fifteen by less than 15 points. In the vast majority of those, Goshen either led at one point or made a runs to trim deficits to under five points. All of that, coming against a schedule that saw the Maple Leafs face off against 15 teams that appeared in the NAIA national polls at the time of the contests.
"Our goal the past couple years has been to increase the talent level so we could be more competitive on a consistent basis in the conference and I think we took big steps towards that this year," added Wiktorowski about the Mid-Central College Conference, which had as many as six teams ranked at a time. "We also wanted to be a much more diverse and consistent scoring team and that was probably the area we were most successful in."
At just under 66 points per game, the Maple Leafs had 10 players who averaged more than two points, five with more than six per game, and three that poured in more than 10 a night.
Several key events and stretches helped define the 2009-10 season for Goshen. The first was the night before they officially competed for the first time when senior Heather Hahn was hurt in practice. After averaging nearly 13 points a game as a junior, Hahn went on to miss nine games in addition to playing limited minutes in several more contests. The loss forced Wiktorowski to play some more of his younger players earlier than planned.
Despite getting off to a 2-4 start without Hahn, the Maple Leafs started to play some outstanding basketball. After a 23-point win over Holy Cross College on November 21, Goshen put a major scare into #14 Indiana Wesleyan in the conference opener. Down by as many as 19 in the second half, the Leafs came roaring back before ultimately falling 59-57 to the Wildcats, who eventually made it to the NAIA Final Four.
Just a week later, Goshen took down Indiana University - Northwest 62-50 on the road. The RedHawks were one of six teams in the 32-team national championship field that the Maple Leafs faced off against this season.
After dropping three of their next four, another key stretch saw Goshen win their final three games of the 2009 calendar year. Wins over Calumet College, Holy Cross, and Bluffton University had the Maple Leafs back at .500 (8-8) heading into 2010.
January proved to be a tough month, however, as 5-of-7 games came against ranked opponents. Goshen dropped five straight, while also suffering another significant loss. Freshman guard Jenna Rusmisel broke her thumb and missed the last six games of the season. At the time, Rusmisel was the second-leading 3-point shooter in the MCC and was fourth on the team in scoring at 8.3 a game.
Goshen eventually closed out their campaign with a 70-65 road win at Spring Arbor University. Junior Cassie Greives was named Honorable Mention All MCC after finishing the season fifth in the conference in scoring (14.9) and first in rebounding (9.1). Classmate Erica Yost tallied 13.8 points and 4.3 assists a game, while senior Lindsay Gangloff scored 10 a night.
Looking forward, Wiktorowski sees a lot of potential for 2010-11. "We are returning the bulk of our scoring and a lot of people who got heavy minutes and experience last year," he said. "Greives and Yost spent most of the year among the top six scorers in the conference and players like Rusmisel, (Erica) Emanuel, (Sam) Hawk, and (Jessica) Harrison should likewise all be more consistent offensively. We saw some nice development in some other young players and I think we'll have some recruits who can help us right away as well."
Postseason Team Awards
Lady Leaf Ambassador: Lindsay Gangloff
Academic Dedication: Rebecca Staveteig
Team Defense Dedication: Rachel Allen
Leaf Belief Attitude: Lindsay Gangloff
Most Improved: Jessica Harrison