November 10, 2011

2011-12 Women’s Basketball Preview

HIRAM, OHIO – The Hiram College women's basketball team will feature a very experienced team in 2011-12 as the Terriers return the majority of their roster from a year ago.

The Terriers are coming off of a 12-14 campaign last year and finished sixth in the conference last season. Hiram also made its fourth straight trip to the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.

Hiram loses just one player from last year's roster and will be led by the duo of senior All-NCAC guard Kelsey Durichko (Brunswick) and Tiffany Shields (Bedford Heights/Bedford).

Durichko started all 26 games last season and finished fourth on the team in scoring at 6.8 points per game on 30.1 percent shooting (53-of-176). She was tied for the team-lead in rebounding
at 6.5 rebounds per game and dished out a school single-season record 138 assists. She also had three blocked shots and a team-high 56 steals defensively. Following the season, she was tabbed as an honorable mention All-NCAC pick.

Shields is coming off of a solid junior season after leading the team in scoring with 14.2 ppg. while shooting 36.4 percent (137-of-376) from the floor. She was also amongst the team leaders in
free-throw shooting (71.1 percent) and rebounding (4.7 rpg.). In addition, Shields tallied a team-best 18 blocked shots to go along with 32 steals defensively.

"Kelsey and Tiffany are the undisputed leaders of this team," said fifth-year Head Coach Andrea Preston. "They have worked extremely hard to elevate their competitiveness and their work ethic has had a tremendous impact on their teammates."

Also returning in the backcourt for Hiram this season will be juniors Chelsea Kovach (Lakewood), Emily Smerchansky (Girard), Calysia Smyers (Akron/ Coventry) and Lindsay Buckner (Vienna/Mathews). Kovach was third on the team in scoring last season with 7.6 ppg. and was second in three-pointers made with 29. Smerchansky and Smyers had solid seasons coming off the bench providing depth at the guard position and averaged 4.6 and 4.4 ppg. respectively. Smyers also averaged 2.2 rpg. to go along with 29 assists and 22 steals. Buckner saw playing time in 25 games as a backup and averaged 1.9 ppg. on 14-of-46 shooting (30.4 percent).

In addition, expect to see sophomore guards Danielle Day (Newbury) and Marissa Thomas (Lorain/Amherst) to compete for increased playing time.

"We have high expectations for our perimeter players this season," said Preston. "This is the second year running an up-tempo offense and all indications are that we will be more efficient and
productive than a year ago."

Hiram will also return a host of veterans up front at the forward positions led by junior Amy Geisman (Middleburg Heights/Midpark). Last season, Geisman started all but one game and led all forwards in scoring at 5.4 ppg. while averaging 4.3 rpg. She led the team in field goal percentage at 40.3 percent (60-of-149) and was also amongst the team leaders in free-throw percentage at 74.1 percent (20-of-27). In addition Geisman had nine assists, six blocks and 14 steals.

Joining Geisman will be fellow juniors Brenna Host (Seven Hills/Normandy) and Amanda Petrusky (Parma/Valley Forge). Host played in 25 games as a backup forward and averaged 3.1 ppg. and 2.6 rpg. She ended the season second on the team in blocked shots with 17. Petrusky saw playing time in 13 games and scored 12 points on four-of-nine shooting (44.4 percent) and four-of-eight (50.0 percent) at the free-throw line.

Sophomore Alexis Kemper (Centerville) should also battle for playing time in 2011-12. As a freshman, Kemper played in 22 games and scored 33 points while shooting 24.4 percent (11-of-45) from the field. She also averaged 1.0 rpg. to go along with two assists, a blocked shot and six steals.

"We have a great group of forwards who have gained playing experience over the past couple of seasons," said Preston.

Hiram will open the season on Tuesday, Nov. 15 when the Terriers travel to Marietta for a non-conference matchup against Marietta College. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Hiram will play its first home game on Saturday, Nov. 26 against Westminster (Pa.) College at 2 p.m. at Price Gym.

"There is no question that we want to have a big year this year," said Preston. "The conference race should be very exciting with many of the top teams losing key contributors. We feel confident that we can take a big step forward with our program this year."