By CAMERON MCCARTNEY
Anyone spending just a few minutes with Steve Bruce, head coach of the IU South Bend women’s basketball team, will understand why he’s looking forward to the upcoming season.
After finishing 15-17 last year, the Lady Titans welcome some talented players to go with several returning veterans.
“Everyone is excited for the upcoming season,” Bruce said. “I think we have the right mix of talent. Their goal is to go to the national tournament in Iowa and bring home another banner to hang up in the Student Activities Center. The difference between this year’s team and last year’s team is the addition of our new players, the experience returning, and a fast breaking-style of play should all contribute to an improved team.”
The captains for the 2013-2014 season are: 5′ 10” senior guard Elyse Lefebvre, 6′ 0” senior forward Emily Strilich, 5′ 6” senior guard Staci Funkhouser and 5′ 10” senior forward Lauren Adams. They have all been great leaders for the team both on and off the court.
The squad’s other top returners are 5′ 9” junior guard Nichole Sly, an honorable mention all-conference selection, Emily Strilich, who averages 10 points a game and was the leading rebounder last season, and 5′ 8” junior guard Ashley Carson, who averaged eight points a game and was the leading three-point shooter last year.
“What’s different from last year’s team is that we have a new post player that transferred from Valparaiso and that puts us at two true posts,” Nichole Sly said. “Our strengths are our defense, we were ranked number one last year in the country with defense, but our offense is coming along great as well this year with the addition of three new assistant coaches. Our weaknesses would be our size, but our heart is bigger than anyone’s out there and we will out play and outsmart any of our competition. We may not always win but we will always earn our right to cry!”
After some great recruiting work this year, Bruce also signed some top rookies and a transfer, including Valparaiso University transfer Maegan Callaway, a 6′ 0” junior center and former Indiana All-Star. Joining her is KiLee Knafel, a 5′ 7” freshman guard from Wawasee High School who became the second all-time leading scorer and earned honorable mention all-state honors during her senior year.
The Lady Titans kick off the season on Oct. 26 at Lawrence Technological University. The first game at home is Nov. 5 at 5:30 p.m.