Nov 02, 2018

2018-19 Women's Basketball Season Preview

A Winning Tradition

 
  • NCAA D-III National Champions (2009)
  • Three NCAA "Final Four" appearances (2009, 2012, 2015)
  • Six NCAA "Elite 8" appearances (2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015)
  • Nine NCAA "Sweet 16" appearances (2000, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016)
  • 14 NCAA National Tournament appearances in 18 years (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • 12 Northwest Conference Championships (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018)
  • 25 straight winning seasons (1994-2018)
  • 14 Top 25 national rankings (2000, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • Three NCAA Division III National Coaches of the Year
  • Six NCAA Division III Region Coaches of the Year
  • 11 Conference Coaches of the Year
  • 20 All-Americans
  • One Academic All-American
  • Three Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Finalists (Justine Benner - 2015, Keisha Gordon - 2012, Katy Campbell - 2008)
  • One Ad Rutschman Small College Athlete of the Year Winner (Kristen Shielee - 2009)
  • One George Fox Pasero Team of the Year (2009)
  • One Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year Award (Scott Rueck - 2009 finalist)
 

By: Jake Bienvenue

NEWBERG – Following a 2017-18 season that saw the program earn its fifth straight NCAA Division III Tournament berth, the George Fox women's basketball team is deep, balanced and ready to continue its legacy of success.

Under ninth-year head coach Michael Meek, the Bruins will kick off their season ranked No. 10 in the D3hoops.com preseason poll.

George Fox's roster features a solid group of returners who have gelled over past seasons. That experience has created a unique dynamic of depth and balance – a quality that Meek feels could lead to the hoisting of another Northwest Conference championship banner, and maybe more.

Standing in the way of that reality is a tough schedule, both in conference and out.

"We want to create a schedule that's really challenging, [so] we're hitting the road early against some solid teams," Meek said.

One major test will come at home against No. 4 St. Thomas (Minn.) on Friday, Nov. 16, when the Bruins get a chance to exact revenge after dropping a close game to the national powerhouse last season.

A handful of conference teams are shaping up to be tough opponents as well. Whitman returns a solid roster after reaching a No. 24 ranking at the end of last season and Willamette will be solid after finishing as conference runner-up a year ago.

The Bruins, however, have the personnel to defend their conference title. Senior wing Haylee Hutzler and junior point guard Emily Spencer are returning All-NWC players who are among the team's leaders. Hutzler averaged 8.9 points, 5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game last season, while Spencer averaged 8.9 points, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals. The Bruins also return Hailey Hartney, Kylin Collman, Tavin Headings, Haley Strowbridge, and Emily Holder – all of which averaged more than 10 minutes a game last season.

The Bruins' athleticism and depth lend itself perfectly to the up-tempo style that Meek will look to implement. "What makes this team so solid is that we have so many kids who could be all-league. We can run subs in and still maintain a high level of play," he said.

The Bruins bolstered their depth in the offseason by adding seven freshmen to the roster. "I expect that we have freshmen who will come in and make an impact right away," Meek commented.

The roster is balanced nicely, being comprised of seven freshmen, four sophomores, five juniors, and three seniors.

The goal – the expectation – remains the same as in past years: bring home a conference title.

"When I think of this group, we have so many selfless, team-centered kids who are focused on doing well for each other," Meek said. "That to me means so much more than wins and losses. When you have that, you have a good chance for a team to reach its potential."

The Bruins kick off the season on the road against Pomona-Pitzer and Cal Lutheran Nov. 9 and No. 11, respectively. The Bruins' home opener is the matchup with St. Thomas (Minn.) on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m.

To see the full schedule, click here. To see the full roster, click here.