Warriors Target Third Straight NCAA Tournament Appearance
2012-2013 Season Preview
November 15, 2012
MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Lutheran College women’s basketball team enters the 2012-2013 season as four-time Northern Athletics Conference division champions. In addition, the Warriors have made appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament each of the past two seasons, and ninth-year head coach Klay Knueppel is hoping to extend both streaks this season.
“We expect to win the conference again and return to the NCAA Tournament,” says Knueppel. “It’s going to take a lot of work this year after losing some key players, but we’re looking forward to continuing our success.”
Knueppel also hopes his team can improve on last year’s tournament appearance, where they fell to fifth-ranked and this year’s preseason number-one Calvin, 59-47. “Our goal is to win some games in the NCAA Tournament,” Knueppel says.
After two seasons in the NAC North Division, the Warriors will transition to the NAC South, a division they had much success against a season ago. Last season, the Warriors defeated the NAC South opponents by an average of 25.8 points per game.
The Warriors return a trio of seniors to the backcourt in Alyssa Allister (Lake Mills, Wis./Lakeside Lutheran), Krissy Day (West Allis, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran), and Shavon Dillon (Milwaukee, Wis./Hope School). Dillon was an All-NAC Second Team performer a season ago, averaging 11.9 points per game off the bench.
“I believe we have the best player in the league in Shavon Dillon,” says Knueppel. “We will look for even more scoring from her this season.”
Knueppel expects to see excellent defense and leadership from the senior trio, as well as an increase in offensive production. Both Allister and Day started all 29 games for WLC last season, averaging 6.6 and 6.2 points per game, respectively.
“With losing the players from last year, I think Alyssa, Krissy, and Shavon will have to be more consistent offensively every single game,” Knueppel says. “Their leadership on the floor is going to be one of the big keys to our success.”
Another player returning to the backcourt is junior Rachel Hoft (Germantown, Wis./Germantown). Hoft played in all 29 games a season ago and contributed 5.2 points per game off the bench.
“Rachel has put in a lot of time in the offseason,” says Knueppel. “We expect her to come off the bench and provide some scoring as she can really shoot the ball well.”
Three other players who could figure into the backcourt mix are sophomore Bethany Unkefer (Phoenix, Ariz./Arizona Lutheran), junior Melissa Klemm (Germantown, Wis./Germantown), and senior Brittanny Bahr (Caledonia, Wis./Shoreland Lutheran).
“Bethany has been playing great in practice and has the potential to be the backup point guard,” says Knueppel. “Melissa is coming off an injury and it will take a little bit of a patience for her early.”
Other players who could figure into the backcourt mix this season include junior Kaila Knueppel (Wauwatosa, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran), and freshmen Marianne Loescher (Jackson, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) and Karisa Pedersen (Bonduel, Wis./Bonduel).
The Warriors will have to replace the departing Rachel Johnson and Jenna Neuberger in the frontcourt and will look to do so with returning starter Kristen Schulz (Safford, Ariz./Arizona Lutheran). Schulz started 28 games and averaged 6.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, while blocking 64 shots.
“Our goal is to get double-doubles out of Kristen this year,” says Knueppel. “She has improved and we are looking for even more from her this season.”
Another player who should see significant minutes is Melanie Laete (Spokane, Wash./Evergreen Lutheran). Laete played in 27 games a season ago and averaged 3.6 points per contest.
“Playing time is going to be key for Melanie,” says Knueppel. “Offensively she will be fine and she needs to step up her defense for us this season.”
Sophomore Christel Frey (South Milwaukee, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran), senior Carrie Thoma (Richfield, Wis./Hartford Union), and junior Kelli Johnson (Milwaukee, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) are three other returning frontcourt players who will add depth to the position.
“Carrie will have to spot minutes for Kristen,” says Knueppel. “Christel is a player who we hope can pick up some of the scoring and Kelli will provide added depth.”
Another player Knueppel mentioned who has made a big impact in the preseason is sophomore Maggie Gartner (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber), while sophomore transfer Mandy Schnell (Milwaukee, Wis./Martin Luther) also provides depth to the position.
“Maggie has been battling hard in practice and has been one of the hardest workers we have had,” says Knueppel.
The Warriors will open their 2012-2013 season with the Dunn’s Sporting Goods Tip-Off Tournament November 16-17 at the Recreation Complex. WLC will play Hamline (Minn.) at 7 p.m. November 16 and then either #4 DePauw (Ind.) or The University of Wisconsin-Stout November 17. The Warriors open conference play November 28 at home against Aurora.