After finishing the 2008-2009 season with a winning record of 15-11, the John Carroll University women’s basketball team is looking to kick it up a notch in the 2009-2010 campaign. The Blue Streaks are picked to finish fifth in the Ohio Athletic Conference Coaches Poll, just below Mount Union.
Head coach Kristie Maravalli returns three seniors from last year’s team and has only five game-tested players. However, she has the luxury of having two proven All-OAC performers in senior forward Caitlin Sureck and junior guard Lee Jennings.
“The team finished last season on a positive note,” said Kristie Maravalli. “We had to battle a few injuries during the middle of the season, but we finished strong winning five of our last six games.”
Maravalli will turn to the senior leadership of Sureck, Laura Gruber and Whitney Hamilton.
“The seniors have been excellent team leaders on and off the court,” said Maravalli. “With Sureck, Gruber and Hamilton all being significant contributors to the team for a few years now, they know what it takes to win and they bring that attitude to the court.”
The Blue Streaks have an athletic and fast team this year, and they plan to use this to their advantage. In particular, they have some of the faster guards in the OAC.
“We must kick it up a notch this season. Our best asset is our speed. We plan to crank up the pressure on our opponent, both offensively and defensively this year,” said Maravalli.
Maravalli will also look for an offensive spark this season from All-OAC guard Lee Jennings, who is very optimistic about this year’s squad.
“The team will have to have great focus for the entire season,” said Jennings. “We will need to keep our eyes on the goal in order to be conference champions.”
The loss of Rachael Price to graduation is a void the Blue Streaks will need to fill. Last season Price was the team’s top three-point threat and earned All-OAC accolades. Her minutes will need to be filled, and Maravalli said she will look to sophomore Taylor Christner to step up and be that three-point shooter.
Christner looks to be accepting that role nicely thus far as she hit a last second, game winning three-pointer during the Blue Streaks scrimmage with Notre Dame College.
Sureck, a player that has finished in the top three in blocks and rebounding in each of her first three seasons, will be more involved in the offense this year. With this being her final season, she has big goals.
“To reach that next level, we need to win our games [against] the top teams in the conference. We cannot settle for just winning the games we are supposed to win,” she said. “I am confident that we can accomplish our goals.”
The season opener for the Blue Streaks is an away game with The College of Wooster on Nov. 16. They have a much anticipated conference and home opener with crosstown rival Baldwin-Wallace College on Dec. 2 at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.