Last season, the 2015-16 Shippensburg University women’s basketball team put together a fantastic season, winning 21 games on the way to a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Semifinal appearance.
This season the roster looks no different and the Raiders are ready to prove that they are the best team in the conference. The biggest difference, however, is the return of star forward Stephanie Knauer who was forced to sit out all but five games last season with an injury.
The 2016-17 roster returns 13 players from last year, including all five starters for the second consecutive year. The key returnees are Knauer, forward Morgan Griffith and guard Logan Snyder. Other key contributors from last year include Colleen Young, Lauren Gold and Haley Scullion.
“We do have the bar set really high,” SU coach Kristy Trn said. “A lot of our expectations are high and hopefully that doesn’t put too much pressure on us, but the biggest difference is we have even more depth than we had last year. The team as a whole did a great job of stepping up [in Knauer’s place], especially Haley Scullion.”
With a strong regular season, the Raiders have a chance to not only make a run in the PSAC Tournament—they have the chance to host the tournament at Heiges Field House.
“It’s certainly on the girl’s list of goals,” Trn said. “We want to maintain our focus take it one day, and one game at a time. We don’t want to get too overwhelmed with the pressure of trying to achieve something that is so far away in one game or one practice, but it is really something that is on our radar, and we want to focus on the journey instead of the destination.”
For the team to reach its goal, scoring points will be extremely important. Last season, the Raiders were able to score 71.4 points per game, while holding opponents to just 63.6 points per game, which proved to be a successful strategy.
The team was led by Griffith offensively last season, who averaged 16.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. Knauer, in her last full season, averaged 12.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The team should have no trouble scoring this season, with all five starters this season averaging double-digit points in their last full season.
The roster features two 1,000-point scorers in Griffith and Knauer. Along with those two, Gold is 26 points away from 1,000, and Snyder is also very close to reaching the 1,000-point plateau.
“It’s awesome. We have a lot of depth, and we ended last season with five scorers in double figures,” Trn said. “I think balance is key. You can’t shut down just one of our players. We have a multitude of players who can pick it up and have a career night on any given night and the fact that we have three players with the possibility of getting their 1,000th career point speaks to the talent we have on the floor. We also have two 1,000-point scorers in Griffith and Knauer returning, which is huge.”
The 2016-17 team was picked to finish first in the PSAC East Division Preseason Coaches’ Poll, earning eight first-place votes. Trn and the team are determined to back up the ranking.
“There is a lot of motivation individually, and there is a lot of motivation as a whole to make this season special,” Trn said.
The 2016-17 season will tipoff Friday, Nov. 11 at Heiges Field House. The Raiders will open their season at 6 p.m. against the University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVA-Wise). The game is part of the annual Wolf’s Bus Lines Classic Tipoff Tournament.