With junior post players Samantha Potter and Katelyn Smith leading the way, the Pacific Lutheran women's basketball team enters the 2012-13 season looking to get the program consistently back into the win column.
Potter and Smith provide talent and leadership in the front court, and combined with a solid class of newcomers, the Lutes figure to take a step or two up this season despite the prediction of Northwest Conference coaches who picked PLU to finish eighth in the league.
After a string of 13 consecutive winning seasons, Pacific Lutheran has suffered three consecutive losing campaigns.
"Our juniors have developed into very nice leaders for our team and it makes all the difference," sixth-year PLU head coach Kelly Robinson said. "We are blessed to have leaders who take ownership in our team and the results of each practice and game. They have a great understanding for our conference and are willing to do whatever is necessary to pursue excellence."
Potter, a second team all-conference pick in 2011-12, is the leader of that group after putting up 14 double-doubles, which ranked 15th in the nation. She averaged 16.8 points per game, ranking her third in the NWC, and with 10.9 rebounds per contest she was tops among all NWC players. Relentless on the offensive boards, Potter averaged 4.6 of her rebounds at that end of the floor, which led to lots of second-chance points.
Smith averaged 9.1 points and 5.0 rebounds per game before suffering a knee injury at the end of the season, but she is healthy and practicing this year.
Other top returnees from the 2011-12 season are sophomore point guard Andi Adams, junior guard Austin Schorno, and junior forward Chrissy Swope, all of whom played at least 24 of the team's 25 games last season. Another returnee is guard Kara Sherman.
Robinson is excited about the potential impact of her freshman class. That group includes guards Megan Abdo, Sarah Barnes, Hannah Munson and Samantha Schubach, and post players Michaela Edgers and Amber Stokes.
"The freshmen have stepped in nicely and adjusted quicker than usual to the demands and pace of the college game," Robinson said. "I expect several of them to contribute significantly this season."
The Lutes open their season this coming Saturday, Nov. 17, when they play NCAA Division II Western Oregon in Monmouth, Ore. The team's first home game comes on Tuesday, Nov. 27, when NAIA opponent Warner Pacific comes to Olson Auditorium.
"Western Oregon will be a great matchup for us Saturday to prepare for a tough NWC schedule. They are fundamentally sound and fast, exactly what we need to see at this point in the season," Robinson said.
- PLU -