Kris Jacobsen routinely has the Carroll University women's basketball team battling for a Midwest Conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth.
Jacobsen, entering her 16th year at the helm, expects the trend to continue in 2013-2014. "Each year our goal is to put ourselves in a position to win the league championship and earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament," she said. "Right now though, our priority is to get better every day in practice. Once the season starts, we feel we have a challenging non-conference schedule that will go a long way in preparing us for a tough Midwest Conference season."
The Pioneers return plenty of experience for the upcoming season, including two starters from a year ago in Emily DeNoyer and Mallory Christenson.
DeNoyer enjoyed a banner year in 2012-2013, finishing the campaign with a first-team All-Midwest Conference selection. The senior forward with a solid all-around game, averaged a team-best 11.7 points per game while hauling in 4.8 rebounds per game. DeNoyer also tallied 32 steals and dished out 27 assists during the season.
Christenson was a routine starter during her freshman campaign a year ago, and like DeNoyer, put up solid all-around numbers. The returning sophomore averaged 9.5 points per game last season while grabbing 4.6 rebound per contest. Christenson added 34 assists, 30 steals and a team-best 11 blocks to her season statistics.
Perhaps the most anticipated return will be that of Breann Maryanski. The junior put together a spectacular freshman season in 2011-2012 and started the 2012-2013 season in dominant fashion but went down with a season-ending injury four games into her sophomore season. In her freshman season, Maryanski averaged 9.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 58.9% from the field. A healthy Maryanski, along with DeNoyer and Christenson, will give the Carroll Pioneers a big and athletic front court.
Corrine Engels returns for her junior season looking to make the jump from significant contributor off the bench to full-time starter. Engels provided a spark off the bench for last year's Pioneers. She scored at a clip of 7.1 points per game while also pulling down 3.9 rebounds per contest. Engels also dished out a team-best 50 assists and recorded 46 steals, third-best for CU.
Fellow junior Julia Piech also returns to add experience to the back court. She played in all 22 games a year ago, starting 15 times. Piech averaged 4.8 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Five other returnees also saw action during the 2012-2013 season, including Emma Kopp, Brianna Johnson, Sammy Yolitz, Breanna Polk and Bridgette Darton. Newcomers Miranda Goen and Ashley Janczewski will battle the incumbents for playing time.
With four MWC games to play last season Carroll sat at 8-6 in league play and was on the outside looking in regarding tournament qualification. As they normally do, the Pioneers closed out the season on a four-game winning streak to grab the fourth and final tournament spot with a league record of 12-6.
In a preseason poll of Midwest Conference head coaches, Carroll has been picked to equal its finish from 2012-2013, nabbing the fourth spot in the poll.
Defending champion Cornell College topped the poll with 100
points and 10 of the league's 11 first place votes. Monmouth
College is picked to finish second with 87 points while receiving
the final first place vote. St. Norbert College (82 points)
finished third, 10 points ahead of Carroll. Lake Forest trailed
closely behind the Pioneers with 69 points while Ripon College was
a distant sixth with 45 points. Illinois College was picked to
finish seventh (39 points), just ahead of Beloit College (38
points) in eighth place. Knox College and Grinnell College tie for
ninth place with 31 points while Lawrence University was last (11
Carroll opens the 2013-2014 season Nov. 15-16 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Pioneers take on the hosts on Friday (Nov. 15) then play the University of Wisconsin-River Falls on Saturday (Nov. 16). Carroll's Midwest Conference debut is scheduled for Nov. 26 when Lake Forest College visits Van Male Fieldhouse for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.