It will take more for the Brits to secure a spot in the MIAA tournament this year.
This year, only the top four basketball teams are selected to go to the conference tournament, as opposed to previous years where everybody got a chance to play for seeding.
The women’s team tied for third in the MIAA last season with an 11-5 record during conference play, and an overall record of 14-13. They ended the season in dramatic fashion, when the Brits beat Alma at the buzzer to keep themselves out of a fourth place.
“We did really well last year,” head coach Doreen Carden said. “As far as the league, we ended up finishing tied for third. As a whole, I think we did really well.”
The Britons are currently projected to finish fourth in the MIAA, according to a preseason coaches poll.
The team loses three key seniors from last year; however, there are two crucial returning seniors for the team that are expected to post big numbers this year. The Britons will rely heavily on them.
One is Patricia Rewa, Greenville senior, a 6’1” senior center who led Albion in scoring and rebounding with 13.6 points per game last year while averaging 8.6 rebounds. She also ranked in the top five in the MIAA in both categories.
“Patricia Rewa was a first-team all-conference as a junior,” Carden said. “Hopefully she can perform to that level this year, if not better than she has.”
The other important returner is Nicole Dennis, St. Clair Shores senior, a 5’9″ guard. During her standout freshman year in 2008, she averaged 11.1 points per game and 2.1 assists. Defensively she was an asset recording 10 blocks and 32 steals.
“Nicole Dennis has been out with injuries the last two years, but she had a great freshman year with us,” Carden said. “But we expect her to come back and do good things for us.”
With only three returning seniors, younger players are going to have to step up. Tanner Johnson, Charlotte sophomore, and Brett De Bear, Plymouth sophomore, will both have expanded roles. Last year, Johnson averaged 4.1 points per game while De Bear averaged 6.1.
“A lot more is expected from the sophomore class, ” Carden said. “They’re going to have to take more of a role for us. Tanner Johnson and Brett De Bear are really stepping up to help us out.”
The first-year class will need to take on a bigger role as well.
“There will have to be some first-years to step up and contribute early,” Carden said. “They’ll have to take a big role in jumping in and doing what we ask them to do.”
Kaitlyn Swick, Coldwater first-year, a 5’5’’ guard, has used the preseason to adjust to the college game.
“Every day shows me my strengths and weaknesses,” Swick said. “The preseason has showed me how much further I can go, faster I can run, how strong I can be mentally, and it’s showed me that I can’t set limitations for myself.”
Carden’s coaching philosophy values effort and intensity. The preseason training was an opportunity for Carden to instill that mentality in her team.
“We expect to compete every single game,” Carden said. “We don’t want to be the team that got outworked. We always want to be outworking our opponents.”
First-year players such as Swick have been receptive to Carden’s coaching so far.
“Coach Carden communicates well with the team. She pushes us really hard because she knows that we have so much more potential.”
Team chemistry is also important for the team’s goal of clinching a spot in the conference tournament. It can’t be done individually.
“The kids have been working hard in the pre-season,” Carden said. “We’ve had two scrimmages already. We definitely need to get better. The chemistry on the team is important, too.”
The Brits season opener is Nov. 15 at Ohio Northern University. Albion opens conference play on Nov. 30 at home versus Calvin College.
Photo courtesy of Albion Sports Information