Women's Basketball May Surprise NWC With New-Look

Bearcat fans won’t see many familiar faces this season. What they will see, according to third year Head Coach Tom Steers is a young, athletic and aggressive team that looks to rebound after a sub-par season last year.

No seniors play on this year’s team as the Bearcats graduated the likes of Simmie and Jammie Muth, Abbie Unick, Sarah O’Brien and Deanna Lund. Instead, Steers will feature a Division I transfer student at the post, a pair of community college transfers and a whole bunch of sophomore and freshmen.

Four juniors — including co-captains Vanessa Wyffels and Jennifer Bell — will leads the team. Sophomore returnees Kari Woody, Brianne King, Ashley Mollet and Lisa Tollenaar will battle for playing time against five sophomores and nine freshmen.

“It’s going to be a growing experience for these players this season. But what they lack in experience, they’ll make up in athleticism, much better shooting and a lot of hard work,” said Steers. The Bearcats begin this season with nine very tough pre-conference games that Steers hopes will teach his young team how to compete in the always-tough Northwest Conference.

Post Vanessa Wyffels (JR, Post, Portland OR) is the Bearcats’ top addition. Wyffels, a transfer student from DI Wagner College, shot an astounding .657 last season while averaging 12.3 points and 6.4 boards per game.

Bell, transfers in from Lane Community College and Bearcat volleyball player Roni Schneider makes her debut from Chemeketa Community College.

“If these kids battle as hard as we did last season, and if they learn to play defense as hard as we did last season, their athleticism and enthusiasm is going to make for a very exciting season,” said Steers.

The women’s basketball team travels to Lewis and Clark for the Bon Appetit Tournament, Saturday, November 20. The Bearcats tipoff their season opener against Menlo College at 1:00pm.

Position by position breakdown:

Point Guard: Three players will share the point guard position this season. While all young, the tandem will allow Steers to give different looks to the defenses they will face. Freshman Laura Payne is one of the Bearcats’ better shooters… Freshman Carrie Magnuson is quick and athletic and should be able to get into the paint. Roni Schneider is the best passer and defender of the three.

Shooting Guard: Jennifer Bell, a transfer from Lane CC, is the Bearcats’ best shooter. Chosen as a team captain, she is a scorer and an aggressive defender. Brianne King returns for her sophomore season as a solid shooter who brings athleticism to the 2 spot. Ashley Mollett, another returnee from last season, is the Bearcats’ most improved player, especially in her ball-handling and rebounding. Rebekah Wells is another athletic freshman who surprises her coaches every day with her ability to create plays.

Small Forward: Expect to see different players start at small forward. Sophomore Kari Woody shoots and rebounds well, and brings some experience to the front line. Freshman Julia Short is the Bearcats’ most versatile player and can do everything from posting up in the 4 spot to playing point guard. Caitlin Andrus and Beth Hickman are a pair of transfer students who can play both the 2 and 3 spots. Neither played last season and will battle for minutes later in the season as they get back into playing shape.

Power Forward: Tracie Nygaard, Sara Clawson and Lisa Tollenaar will all get minutes at power forward. Nygaard is a hard-worker who is getting better every day. Clawson is a great defender who has the knack for making big plays at crunch time. Tollenaar has solid fundamentals inside and will be one of the Bearcats’ top rebounders.

Post: Vanessa Wyffels will get most of the minutes inside. She’s a great shooter and has a strong feel for the game. She can shoot the 3-ball, post up, and play defense and passes well. “She’s very resourceful under the basket,” says Steers.