Lutes Open 2010-11 Season Against Chaminade
THIS WEEK: Pacific Lutheran hosts Chaminade, Wednesday, 7 p.m.; PLU hosts Concordia (Ore.), Saturday, 7 p.m.
SIX IN A ROW: Pacific Lutheran kicks off its 2010-11 women's basketball season on Wednesday night with a home contest against the Chaminade University Silverswords. Chaminade University is a NCAA Division II school located in Honolulu. The Silverswords are playing three games on the mainland. Following Wedneday's contest against the Lutes, they will be playing two games at a tournament hosted by Central Washington University. Last season, the Silverswords were 1-23, losing 21 in a row to end the season. Of note is that current PLU player Ayla Mull, a 5-7 junior guard, played her first season at Chaminade - as a post player. The game is the first of six in a row at home to open the season for the Lutes. On Saturday, the Lutes will host Concordia (Ore.), also at 7 p.m.
LISTEN LIVE: You can hear all PLU non-conference home games online by going to the PLU athletics website, www.golutes.com, and clicking on the Listen Live link. From there, click on the appropriate game.
SEASON OUTLOOK: New things are happening this year for the Pacific Lutheran women's basketball team, with nine new freshman, and two new assistant coaches being added to the team. The talented recruiting class, in addition to a strong group of returners, is a combination that should strengthen the program. "The combination of experience from our seven returners and energy from our nine freshmen is very exciting. I have seen a pursuit of excellence and a growing connection between them in our first two weeks of practice that will make all the difference this season," Coach Kelly Robinson said of her team for this upcoming season.
The Pacific Lutheran women's basketball team finished the 2009-10 season with a 7-18 overall record including, a 5-11 record in the Northwest Conference, giving them a 6th place finish for the year. The team lost two players to graduation this past year, so they are returning a strong, experienced core group that will pose a threat in the NWC.
Included in this returning group are seniors Jordan Westering and Mandy Wall. Last season, Westering averaged 24.6 minutes, 9.8 points, and 4.3 rebounds per game. With another year of experience under her belt she is sure to have a great season ahead of her as she poses a threat from both the three-point line and in the paint. Wall, who started at point guard for much of the season, averaged 21.3 minutes, 5.3 points, and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. Wall will be a great leader for the team in the backcourt again this year.
Another key returner for the Lutes is NWC honorable mention player Melissa Pixler. Pixler, who started 21 games for the Lutes last year averaged 27 minutes and 9.4 points per game for the 09-10 season. She is sure to continue to be an offensive threat for the team this year as she shot 39.6 percent from three-point range last season. Paired with Pixler is Sara Backstrom. Backstrom, who started 19 games last season, led the lutes in minutes averaging 29.5. She also averaged 10.7 points per game and led the Lutes in assists for the season with 81.
Other returning threats are sophomores Shelly Kilcup, who led PLU in scoring until a season-ending injury, and Mackenzie Bieker, who started 10 games for the Lutes last year. Also returning is Ayla Mull, a junior who put in solid minutes for the team in the 09-10 season.
To compliment this group of returners, the freshman class has lots of talent to add to the mix. This includes three forwards that are sure to make an impression in both the program and the conference—Samantha Potter from Sunset High School in Portland, Oregon, Katelyn Smith from Yelm High School and Kayla Bostwick from Lake Stevens High School.
New for the Lutes at the guard position are Angel Pele from Auburn Mountainview, Austen Schorno from Yelm, Allie Hamilton from Newberg in Oregon, Mahlet Tingley from Juneau-Douglas in Alaska, Chrissy Swope from Vashon Island, and Melissa Castor from North Sound Christian.
This season is sure to be an exciting one with so many new additions, not only to the women's basketball program but to the NWC as well. "With three new coaches in the NWC this year at George Fox, Puget Sound and Linfield, and the graduation a talented class of athletes from all the programs, I see the top four spots in the conference completely up for grabs for the team who comes together and competes relentlessly," says Coach Kelly Robinson.
The Lutes were picked to finish sixth in the NWC in the preseason coaches' poll, but changes in the league and a very dedicated group of coaches and athletes give a promise to bigger accomplishments for the year. "I am just so excited that we are finally practicing," says Coach Robinson about the upcoming competitive season.
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