2016-17 CWRU Women’s Basketball Preview

2016-17 CWRU Women’s Basketball Preview

Featuring a core of veteran returning players and an infusion of talented freshmen, the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team will be aiming to take a step forward during the 2016-17 campaign.

The Spartans, who finished the 2015-16 campaign with an overall record of 8-17, including a 3-11 University Athletic Association record, will be returning nine players from last year's team, the majority of whom saw considerable time on the court during the campaign.  Among the team's returners are the top-three scorers and rebounders from last year in senior guard Jess McCoy, junior forward Kara Hageman, and sophomore guard/ forward Hillary Hellmann.

"I have really been enjoying this group," said CWRU Head Coach Jennifer Reimer.  "They have amazing energy and are very coachable.  They play hard in every practice and are a lot of fun to coach."

McCoy did a little bit of everything for the Spartans in 2015-16 averaging 13.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, en route to earning All-UAA Second Team recognition last season.  Serving as a team co-captain for the second-straight season, McCoy will make the move from point guard to her natural position of shooting guard for the upcoming year.

"We're very fortunate that Jess is as versatile as she is, but I'm happy that she'll be able to play the two-guard position this year, where she really belongs," said Reimer.  "She looks strong and healthy and is doing a great job leading, and it is going to be great to watch her play."

Hageman will be joining McCoy as a co-captain this season.  An all-UAA Honorable Mention last season, she averaged 13.6 points per game and 7.6 rebounds, finishing the year ranked sixth in the conference in each category, and was fifth among all UAA players with 1.2 blocks per game.  The forward notched a team-leading six double-doubles over the course of the campaign.

"Kara sets the example by the way she works," said Reimer.  "Her motor never stops, and she has the ability to score from the inside and the outside, which makes her such a valuable piece to our offense."

Hellmann played in all 25 games for CWRU during her freshman year, including 16 in a starting role.  She tied with Hageman for the team lead with six double-doubles and added 7.0 rebounds and 13.3 points per game.  Entering her second year, the Spartans will look for continued improvement from Hellmann.

"I can't say enough about the growth Hillary has made over the summer.  It is obvious the work that she has put in, especially on the defensive end," said Reimer.  "She is such a special player in the way that she can score, because she can do it with the defense in her face.  Hillary will be a big piece for us this year."

Other returners for the Spartans include senior guard Alex Roth, sophomore guards Alexis Amburgey and Gabby Wallach, and sophomore forward Darby Kreienberg.

"Alex has done a lot of different things to help us be successful, and is such a wonderful team player," said Reimer.  "And, Alexis' three-point shooting is really going to help us, and playing at her natural position will make a really big difference this season."

A major difference for the Spartans this season will be their depth at the point guard position.  Sophomore Kasey Yu will look to make an impact after missing all of last season due to an injury, while freshman Alicia Marie Gonzales should see considerable playing time at point guard as well.

"We will be somewhat inexperienced at the position, but for the first time in a long time, we will have a true point guard with either Kasey or Alicia. An added bonus is that now some of our players that had been asked to play that position previously can now go back to their true position," said Reimer.  "We are going to very fortunate to have two strong players at point guard this year."

In addition to Gonzales, four other freshman will join the roster for this year's team – guards Kendall McConico, Jordan ElHindi and Marissa Muth and forward Emma Hock.

"We are excited about all five of our newcomers.  They have elevated us as a team, and I'm excited to see what they can do this year," said Reimer.

Reimer will be starting her 10th season at the Spartans' helm, and her 20th year overall as a Head Coach.  She will enter the season with a career ledger of 264-219 (.547 winning percentage), and her 107 wins with CWRU put her just 13 away from becoming the winningest coach in the program's history.  Reimer will be joined on her staff by assistants Alexandra Dellas and Erin Gdaniec.

The Spartans' 2016-17 schedule includes seven games against opponents who were ranked in the D3hoops.com preseason poll, and another four against teams that received votes in the organization's rankings, including a season-opening contest at home against 23rd-ranked Ohio Northern University on November 15th.  From there, the team will head to Washington, Pennsylvania for the SpringHill Suites Basketball Tournament, before returning home for a three-game home stand against local opponents in Baldwin Wallace (Nov. 22), Oberlin (Nov. 26) and John Carroll (Nov. 27).

"Given what the UAA is, there's no way to prepare for how intense the competition in conference is.  But, our non-conference schedule is put together to be as close to the UAA teams as we can find," said Reimer.  "We schedule that way so we can be ready for the UAA."

Case Western Reserve will then have an eight-game road swing that will include the start of UAA play against 18th-ranked Carnegie Mellon on January 7th.  The Spartans are due to return to Cleveland for a season-long four game conference home stretch between January 20th and January 29th, including contests against seventh-ranked Rochester (Jan. 22) and ninth-ranked Washington (Jan. 29).

The home game against Washington will also be a part of the University's annual Throwback Weekend, along with the team's January 27th game against Chicago, with both contests being played at historic Adelbert Gymnasium.  The Spartans are slated to wrap-up their season on February 25th at home against Carnegie Mellon, with a special 'Senior Day' ceremony preceding the game.

"We are going to play a much more up-tempo style," said Reimer.  "We're excited about being a lot more aggressive on defense, and I think we are going to be a fun group to get behind."