Season Preview: Storm Gears Up for Tough Schedule in 2009-10
Nov 05, 2009
The Lake Erie College women's basketball team played one of the
most grueling, difficult schedules in the country in its first year
at the NCAA Division II level last year. With 19 games on the road,
including 10 of the first 12, the Storm faced a tall mountain to
climb toward a successful season.
Just don't tell the players.
"As coaches we're aware of what we're doing to them," Storm head
coach Bob Booher said. "As players, are they aware? No."
The Storm, entering its second year at the Division II level
will play similar competition this year as the unit looks to
improve on its 6-21 mark from 2008-09 when the Storm played some of
the top teams in Division II on the road, like 2008 national champs
Northern Kentucky, Grand Valley State, Findlay, Gannon and
This year, Booher has loaded the schedule with top teams as
well, including two games against Division I opponents on the road
at Akron and Cleveland State. The Storm also has games against
nationally-ranked Division II California (Pa.), Indiana (Pa.) and
Grand Valley State.
But, according to Booher, the difficult schedule doesn't matter
much to the players, who really don't have an idea of how difficult
of a schedule they are playing.
"They're oblivious to it," said Booher. "Somebody shows up on the
schedule, we're either on the road or we're at home and they're
going to play the game. The fact that Northern Kentucky was the
defending national champs. What does that mean to them? They're a
basketball team just like we are."
In 2010-11, the Storm will start an annual trek through the
Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule when it
joins that conference, which consistently sends multiple teams into
the Division II national tournament. This season, like last, will
prepare the Storm for the future.
"I believe in what I hear about the GLIAC and how strong that
conference is," Booher said. "The GLIAC schedule is going to be
tough, but is it going to be any tougher than what this team's been
through the first two years? This year and last year were really,
Fortunately for Lake Erie, the Storm return all five starters
and top scorers from last season, including senior guard
and All-Independent College Athletic Association
2nd-team pick Renese Ames (Bedford, Ohio/Bedford), who
averaged 13.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals per
game. Ames, last year's leading scorer, will be the lone senior on
the floor for the Storm.
"I'm hoping that Renese becomes more efficient as a scorer and
continues to score at the level she did last year," said Booher.
"We just need her to be more efficient putting the ball in the
Lake Erie returns last season's leading rebounder, junior 5-9
forward Alyssa Wagers (Stow, Ohio/Stow), who comes back after a
season in which she scored more than eight points per game and
grabbed a team-high 8.6 boards. She was named as this season's team
captain and Booher expects her to be a leader on the floor.
"Wagers is a battler on the floor," said Booher. "She's one of
those people who is going to fight for loose balls, fight for
rebounds and get involved physically, emotionally and verbally as a
The Storm also returns 6-foot-1 sophomore center Stephanie
Rogers (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor), who averaged almost 12 points and 6.5
rebounds per game last season when she was named the ICAA Freshman
of the Year.
Sophomore forward Jen Caiola (South Russell, Ohio/Chagrin Falls)
returns as the top three-point shooter for the Storm. She drilled
47 threes last season and hit 84 percent of her free throws, while
averaging 10 points per game. Sophomore guard Britt Busson
(Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth) is the final starter returning to
Booher's squad. She averaged 7.2 points per game a season ago.
With all five starters returning, the Storm will see the biggest
difference simply in the improvements the returners made while
playing their tough schedule last season and through their work
"I'm really happy with the strides that the starters, really all
our returners, have taken," Booher said. "All of them have taken
another step as basketball players. We're going to be a better
basketball team than we were last year. That step has been a great
Lake Erie will also have additionally strong players coming off
the bench, including freshman guard Sarah Wojciechowski (Randolph,
Ohio/Waterloo) and freshman center Samantha McKinney (Willowick,
Junior guard Brittany Zele (Geneva, Ohio/Geneva), who averaged
4.5 points per game in 2007-08, but missed last season, and junior
forward Katelyn Prince (Thompson, Ohio/Ledgemont) will also bolster
a bench unit that struggled scoring last season.
"The addition of their firepower coming off the bench is going
to be very positive," Booher said. "I think I can go to the bench
for longer stretches this year and get more production than we did
With a team that includes nine sophomores and freshmen, no
matter what rotation Booher uses, it will be one that has youth
"We really don't have a veteran presence," he said. "Our
veterans are sophomores. They're still on the younger half of their
college careers. But that's the fun part. We're looking at the
And they will still be handling that tough schedule, which also
features five instances of playing games in back-to-back days,
beginning with the Wheeling Jesuit Tip-Off Classic to open the
regular season Nov. 15 and 16. Playing in that type of back-to-back
style tournament will force Booher to go to the bench and find out
what kind of depth resides on it.
"There will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if we're
successful," Booher said about future conference play and
postseason possibilities. "Right now that's not out there, so we're
just playing and trying to get better."
Last year's 6-21 record may not look like much to a casual
observer, but the constant improvements and the look ahead to the
future will make this year's squad a fun bunch to watch.
The Storm are not only trying to win basketball games, but the
players are also working hard in the classroom, achieving a 3.47
team GPA last season.
"From an academic standpoint, they were a huge, huge success,"
Booher said. "Even though I'm a basketball coach, they're here for
an education. They won a lot last year on the academic court. But
then as a coach, do I want to win? Oh my gosh...why bother playing
if we're not going to win?"
And despite the youth and the difficult schedule, that's exactly
what the Storm will be looking to do.