|High standards set for BG women (11-05-13)|
|Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 05 November 2013 10:40|
Over the past decade, the standard has been set high for the Bowling Green State University women's basketball team.
In the last 10 years, the Falcons have won 20 or more games each year, and have made nine postseason appearances.
Last season the Falcons were 24-11 overall and 11-5 in the Mid-American Conference. Bowling Green lost to Central Michigan in the third round of the MAC tournament, and then won two games in the WNIT before losing 50-47 to Drexel.
The Falcons will have a 12-player roster this season.
''With all the new rule changes that are occurring in women's basketball, being a deep team is going to be more necessary that any other years,'' BG head coach Jennifer Roos said. ''The new catch phrase for women's basketball is freedom of movement. They are hoping that freedom of movement will increase scoring opportunities, and increase scoring overall.
''The offense has every advantage, in my opinion.''
Seven players return from last season's team, including starters Alexis Rogers, Jillian Halfhill, and Miriam Justinger.
A redshirt senior, Rogers averaged 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game last season, while starting every game.
Halfhill, a senior, is the starting point-guard. She averaged 8.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season and had 114 assists.
''Her first real playing time came as a junior, and she definitely blossomed last year,'' Roos said about Halfhill. ''She has shown a lot of maturity ... She feels definitely more comfortable in that position (post-guard) then she has in any other year.
''We will rely on her to get us into offenses, and rely on her to get us to the foul line. She's a player that does a tremendous job of drawing fouls.''
As a freshman last season, Justinger started 22 of BG's 35 games, averaging 5.6 points per game. She became BG's defensive stopper as the season progressed, and also provides a 3-point shooting threat.
''She is too unselfish at times. I need her to shoot more,'' Roos said. ''We put a lot of pressure on her to play (a lot of minutes at both ends).''
Other seniors returning are Jill Stein and Katrina Salinas.
Stein came off the bench to play a big role down the stretch last season. She averaged 5.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the season, but had 88 points and 59 rebounds in the final nine games. The Falcons went 7-2 in their last nine games.
''You could make an argument, quite easily, that our (late-season) run was due solely to her,'' Roos said about Stein.
Stein has come off the bench for her first three years, but is expected to start this season.
Also returning are juniors Jasmine Matthews and Deborah Hoekstra. After a strong freshman year, Matthews was limited to 13 games last season because of a stress fracture.
A transfer and four freshmen round out BG's roster.
Erica Donovan, a transfer from North Carolina State, sat out last season and she has three years of eligibility remaining.
The 5-foot-11 Donovan, could be BG's X-factor this season.
''Some people are unaware of her ability, and I think they'll be pleasantly pleased with what she can contribute,'' Roos said. ''That's a kid who plays extremely hard between the lines. We asked her to play multiple positions. She's a quick study as well.''
The freshmen are Leah Bolton, Kennedy Kirkpatrick, Rachel Konieczki, and Abby Siefker.
Bolton is currently sidelined after undergoing meniscus surgery. She was a late signee for the Falcons, and participated in approximately two weeks of summer practices, before suffering a knee injury.
Roos said there is no set date for Bolton's return.
''We do have some freedom to go with some different lineups,'' Roos said. ''We can start a really big lineup ... We do have some versatility this year.
"I anticipate a lot of people making contributions.''
The Falcons open play Friday in the Iona Tipoff Tournament against Michigan.
Michigan is one of three Big Ten teams on the schedule. The Falcons also play at Ohio State as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge, and at Purdue.
''It's a very difficult non-conference schedule. We scheduled it that way to help prepare us for our conference slate,'' Roos said.
BG's home opener is Nov. 15 against Niagara.
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