The Great Lakes Valley Conference had a season for the ages in 2007-08. Six schools posted 20 win seasons and all six advanced to the NCAA Tournament, a Division 2 record. Additionally, the GLVC posted an unbeaten record against non-conference opponents during the national tournament, capped by Northern Kentucky's national championship. More big things are expected in 2009 from the league, with Indianapolis leading in-state hopefuls.
LeeAnn Freeland's first season got off to a dynamic start, as Indianapolis shot out of the gates 11-0. Injuries took a mid-season toll, but the Greyhounds recovered to tie for the GLVC East championship en route to a final 22-8 record. Motivation shouldn't be an issue as Indy still has the bitter taste of a 55-54 NCAA 1st round loss to eventual champ NKU in their mouths. Indianapolis led by as many as fifteen points in the second half as well as a final shot in the closing seconds to win the game. A significant returning cast means high hopes for this winter.
Reigning Freshman of the Year Samantha Meissel is back after putting up 13.5 ppg and 5.5 rpg as a rookie. Fellow starters Jessica Canary (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, at left) and Katie Dewey (4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg) return for their third year in the playing rotation. Other regulars include Isabell Rhenwick (7.9 ppg), Katie Lyons (4.8 ppg), Hillary Wenning (3.4 ppg) and Sarah Fenneman (3.3 ppg). Fresh off a trip to the 3A state finals, Bishop Chatard teammates Caroline Schutzman and Megan Gardner will look to offset the loss of graduated seniors Karla Mast and Deanna Thomson.
Southern Indiana started off solidly in 2008, sitting at 6-4 but falling into a tailspin from which they never recovered during a 10-17 campaign. Nine losses were by seven points or fewer, and Coach Rick Stein hopes that an influx of new talent will help correct that trend. Returners include Amie Newhart (9.8 ppg), Brittany Neuman (3.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, at right) and Lauren Meneghetti (3.6 ppg). Anderson's Taylor Miller had a strong first showing in USI's preseason loss to Indiana as the top freshman talent for the Screaming Eagles. Out-of-state transfers Ellen Young and Abby Williams are expected to make major contributions as well. USI was picked 3rd in the GLVC West in a preseason poll of league coaches.
St. Joseph's is hoping for some calm in their basketball program after a revolving door in their head coaching position. Brandon Turner will be the fifth coach since the start of the 2001-02 season for the Pumas, a perennial region power that has fallen on hard times this decade. After a 1-25 season that saw them go winless in the GLVC, the forecast is cloudy with the departure of six of the team's top seven scorers. Only Kelsey Bess (6.3 ppg) returns as St. Joe looks for major improvement with a solid group of newcomers. Headlining a class of nine freshman are 6'2 post Erica Jiles (Cardinal Ritter), 5'4 point guard Brittney Cruse (Merrillville), and 6'1 wing Natalie Appelhans (Northeastern).
The GLVC out-of-state schools continue to mine the Hoosier state for talent as well.
Bellarmine (20-12) finished a game behind Indianapolis and Northern Kentucky in the GLVC East and is again tucked on their shoulders in the preseason rankings. Dana Beaven (11.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and Trisha Bennett (4.0 ppg) provide veteran experience, while former North Vermillion standout Allison Hughes (17.2 ppg in 2007) transfers in from St. Joe. Allison Matheis (Northeast Dubois), Taylor Fountain (New Albany), and Randi Uebehlor (Forest Park) should also factor into the equation as freshman.
Kentucky Wesleyan rallied from a mid-season seven game losing streak to win six of eight late in the season to finish 13-13. 2008-09 sees a substantial overhaul of the roster with six of the eleven players new to the program. Huntington North's Chelsea Kilty (7.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg) is a top returnee and she'll be joined by rookie Indiana native Keely Wilhite, a stalwart of Wood Memorial's 2007 state finalist squad.
Madison grad Sadie Bowling walks into an eviable spot, joining a Northern Kentucky team (28-8) that graduated just two players from last year's title team and opens this season ranked #1. Bowling was one of the top three players off the bench in their opening preseason victory against local rival and Big East member Cincinnati last week.
Quincy was a GLVC suprise last season, improving to from 16-11 to 20-10 with an NCAA Tournament berth despite breaking in a new coaching staff. A key figure in that leap forward was Clinton Prairie star Janette Burgin (10.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg), who has established herself as one of the top juniors in the conference.
With the graduation of Leslie Ricker, Perry Central's Lindsey Ransome is the sole Hoosier remaining for Missouri-St. Louis. Ransome averaged 5.7 points coming off the bench and will take on an expanded role as a senior as UMSL seeks to improve on last year's 7-20 mark.
Evansville Mater Dei alum Tiffany Payton, who spent the past two seasons at Kaskaskia Community College, enters the league as a junior transfer for Rockhurst in Missouri. The Lady Hawks went 8-19 last season, finishing two games behind Southern Indiana for fifth place in the GLVC West.
Conference coaches selected Northern Kentucky to pace the GLVC East this winter, while defending regular season and league tournament champ Drury (MO) was the selection in the West.