FINDLAY - The University of Findlay women's basketball team will begin preparations for their season on Monday, Oct. 15 as they open up practices for the 2012-13 season.
Last season the Oilers finished with a 15-12 record and earned a spot in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Tournament. This season, the Oilers will look to once again challenge for the GLIAC South Division title. They had won two straight divisional titles before last season and the senior class will look to win their third this year.
"We have some quality depth this season and plan on utilizing as many players as possible," said head coach Kate Cummings. "We plan on being very balanced and we will probably have different players leading us each and every game."
At the point guard position, junior Ashley Andrews returns after averaging 5.3 points, 2.1 assists and 2.0 rebounds per game.
"Ashley has a knack for finding the open player and is very assertive in using the balls creen," said Cummings. "She can get out in transition and is a good shooter with range."
Sophomore Kristin Klausing also returns to the Oilers after playing in 22 games last season.
"Kristin finished last year on a high note and has the ability to make jump shots," said Cummings. "Her continued improvement will be an asset for us this year."
Freshman Bailee Maggert will also challenge for playing time at the point guard position during the year.
Maggert, from Hartland High School in Howell, Mich., was a four-time all-conference pick.
"Bailee is very good at defending the ball in the open floor," said Cummings. "She will add some depth to the position and her scoring ability will help us on the offensive end of the floor."
The Oilers have a number of options on the wings in their usual four-guard lineup. Senior Kayla Brown leads the group as she was named second team all-conference last year as a junior.
During her junior season, Brown averaged a team-high 12.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. She also recorded 2.2 steals per game and drained 46 three pointers. Brown has scored 754 points during her career and has added 317 rebounds. She will look to become the Oilers 19th member of the 1,000-point club in her final year with the Oilers.
"Kayla can play multiple positions for us and get to the foul line," said Cummings. "She is a threat on offense as well as defense and we are counting on her to have a great senior season."
Laura Piehl also returns to this group of players, but is expected to miss some games due to her second knee injury. Piehl, formally Laura Bardall, has been an all-conference player three times and is among the best players to ever wear the Oilers uniform.
Piehl has scored 1,262 career points to go along with 444 rebounds and 273 assists. Her point total is the eighth best all-time and she was on pace to become the first Oilers player to score 1,500 points with 500 rebounds and 300 assists.
"Laura is working her way back from injury and we are excited to get her back," said Cummings. "She has a great knowledge of the game and her confidence makes the other players around her better."
Senior Kendra Elam and juniors Karli Beasley and Kaleigh Kenny will also return to the wings and both will be counted on to fill key roles for the Oilers this year.
Elam has started 22 games during her career and is coming off of her junior campaign with averages of 2.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
"Kendra is extremely tough and a good defender," said Cummings. "She can also knock down some long range shots and space the floor."
Beasley has had a really good offseason and will challenge for a starting spot in the winter. As a sophomore, Beasley averaged 3.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.
"Karli worked hard and has really developed," said Cummings. "She will help our pressure defense and her attacking mentality on the offensive side will fit right into what we want to do on offense."
Kenny has logged 27 starts during her career and averaged 4.1 points and 3.7 rebounds per game last year for the team.
"Kaleigh is a solid performer from the three point line and is one of our better rebounders," said Cummings. She has a good skill set and is valuable on both ends of the floor."
Freshmen Alyssa Grevenkamp and Julia Grisdela will also look to earn playing time on the wing for the Oilers in 2012-13 as well.
Grevenkamp, from Lakota West High School, was a first team all-conference pick and honorable mention all-Ohio selection as a senior. Grisdela meanwhile, from Okemos High School in Okemos, Mich., was also a first team all-conference pick.
"Alyssa is a fast, smooth athlete with phenomenal shooting range while Julia is a guard that can use screens to free herself up for open jumpers," said Cummings.
Junior Nikki Gunning, a transfer from Indiana State University, will also be slotted in on the wing next season as she is taking a red-shirt year.
Gunning played in 29 games for Indiana State before suffering an injury during her sophomore season.
Most of the players mentioned on the wing will also see time at the Oilers forward position during the season. The Oilers do however have some true forwards on their roster, headlined by sophomore Lacey Kessler.
Kessler played in 26 games last year and finished third on the team in scoring at 7.2 points per game. She also averaged 3.0 rebounds in only 16 minutes of action per outing.
"Lacey is an athlete with tremendous offensive rebounding ability," said Cummings. "She is also great at getting to the foul line and we are hoping she continually improves."
A pair of freshmen in Margaret Wuebker and Kelsey Lewis will look to compete for playing time at the forward position as well.
Wuebker, from Marion Local High School, was a three-time all-conference pick while Lewis, from Olentangy Orange High School, was also a three-time all-conference pick during her prep career.
The Oilers will welcome back senior Tai Dotson to the post position as she averaged 4.5 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season.
"Tai has developed into a force in the paint and will be difficult to defend in the open floor," said Cummings. "She understands what we want and is giving good effort on both ends of the floor."
Junior Andrea Kras, a transfer from Western Michigan University, will also be available for the Oilers to use at the post position this year.
Kras, a 6'6 center, played in 13 games at Western Michigan before dealing with injuries.
"Andrea is a unique element in the post due to her length," said Cummings. "She can finish around the rim and hit jumpers."