Parkside’s 2010/11 women’s basketball season gets underway Saturday afternoon in DeSimmone Gymnasium against Concordia University St. Paul. Before we get to the game coverage of that, it’s worth reflecting on what the team accomplished a year ago.
The Rangers set a school record for wins while posting the best record in the university’s history, 23-8. The team won the Great Lakes Valley Conference North Division championship, and made it’s second ever run in the NCAA tournament, where they eventually were ousted by Findlay. The team also said good-bye to point guard Amanda Gibson, who finished her senior season with the team as the program’s third highest scorer in history. The Rangers had a huge year in the 2009/10 campaign, the head coach of Parkside’s women’s basketball team, Jenny Kenesie, has her perspective set for the season ahead: “We have a lot to live up to, obviously. [Our players] want to have that high expectation for themselves, and we do as a team. We’re excited about the year and excited to get it started and rolling.”
First and foremost, the Rangers may have lost their starting point guard from last year, but gained a coach. Amanda Gibson will again be a part of the women’s basketball team, and she joins the team this year as a student assistant coach.
“We’re so excited to have Amanda Gibson as part of our staff,” said coach Kenesie. “There is nobody better in the point guard position to be able to teach Kaitlyn [Bettiga] the role that we ask our young ladies, specifically at the point guard position. Amanda is going to be a great teacher. She’s always been a great leader, and we’re very fortunate to have her on our staff.”
Knowing that Amanda Gibson is onboard with the coaching staff, it still begs the question of who steps into the starting point guard role? The answer to that is Green Bay native Kaitlyn Bettiga, who will be entering her junior year, and has served as Amanda Gibson’s back up the past two years. She has been a great spark off the bench for the Rangers in that time, but now the point is hers to run. With a young nucleus of guards behind her, a lot can be expected of Kaitlyn Bettiga to step up big this season.
“Kaitlyn Bettiga is a kid who is going to have to play a much bigger role,” notes coach Kenesie. “I think we’re going to see a lot of different things from her, as far as leadership goes and running the show for our team.”
The key strengths of the women’s basketball team will be their versatility and depth. The Rangers’ key last season was working in the paint, and that’s senior center Brittany Hogan’s area. Hogan is coming off a great year that included her being named to All-GLVC Second Team.
“Brittany is obviously a key to our success,” admitted coach Kenesie. “She is coming off a really good year. We’re hoping that a couple of her back ups, both Kristen Ruchti and Kiah Simon, are going to give Hogan a little bit more time on the bench, so she can be even more productive than she already is by giving her some rest. She’s going to be a huge impact for us, and we’re going to pound the ball inside to her and let her go to work.”
The Rangers are very effective with Hogan in the paint, but their versatility can allow them to work the perimeter with outside shooting by junior guard Jadee Rooney. Rooney started every game last year for the Rangers, and averaged 12.2 points per game, good for nineteenth best in the GLVC.
“In the last couple weeks, as we started our regular season practices, [Rooney] has been doing really well,” notes coach Kenesie. “I see a lot of really good things going for her. I see her being more versatile than she has ever been.”
The Rangers enter the season with aspirations to take last year’s best ever season and take it to the next step. The Rangers are pre-ranked second in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, behind Drury, and have been placed atop the North Division they won last year. The GLVC always seems to be tightly knit, and nobody knows that better than head coach Jenny Kenesie:
When you play in the GLVC, you have to come ready to play day in and day out. The league is extremely strong and we’re excited to get it rolling. Our non-conference games are going to get us ready and prepared for those conference games.
In the games played thus far, the Rangers have taken on NCAA Division I talent, and have played strong basketball against bigger foes. The Rangers lost to the Purdue Boilermakers on the road 88-48, lost another road bout against the Marquette Golden Eagles 76-43, but won their last road game, 69-63, against the Northern Illinois Huskies, another Division I college. The Rangers open up at home Saturday November 13th against Concordia University St. Paul. Great Lake Valley Conference games begin on the road for the Rangers at the start of December, but home conference games begin right after New Year’s Day.