2016 GVSU women’s basketball preview

GVL/Emily Frye - Janae Langs (20) shoots a three pointer to keep the Lakers lead against Indiana University on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Emily Frye

GVL/Emily Frye – Janae Langs (20) shoots a three pointer to keep the Lakers lead against Indiana University on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Josh Peick

After a Cinderella run to the Final Four last season, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team is primed for another playoff run. The Lakers return all five starters from last season’s postseason run, along with two more seniors.

The experience that the Lakers will be bringing to the court sets high expectations for the 2016-17 season.

“Our expectations are to be very competitive and be in the mix in the conference title,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams.

The current class of seniors has played with each other for three seasons, and three of those seniors have been featured in the starting five since their freshmen year.

“Returning all of our players is a huge asset for us,” said senior guard Lindsay Baker. “It definitely helps with experience and chemistry, and we expect to do great things.”

Last season, Baker came off the bench and provided the Lakers with a dangerous sharpshooter from beyond the arc. She broke the school record for the most 3-pointers made in a single season with 77.

“As a senior it’s my job to lead, whether that’s vocally or through my actions,” Baker said. “Being someone that comes off the bench and is looked at to be a spark for our offense is a good amount of pressure for me. My team is relying on me and to be confident, and if I can do that, I can radiate that confidence to the rest of our team.”

The returning starting five of Piper Tucker, Taylor Lutz, Kayla Dawson, Bailey Cairnduff and Janae Langs will provide the Lakers with a solid foundation on the roster.

“It gives you a big confidence boost coming in with the veteran status,” Langs said. “We can set ourselves to high standards, but we can’t expect anything coming into the season. We have to start from the bottom up.”

Langs, a guard, filled in for the Lakers midseason after senior Brionna Barnett went down with an injury. She played a vital role in the Final Four run last season.

“It gave me confidence, just the coaches and my teammates believing in me, but that was last season.” Langs said. “It’s done and over with. I have to prove myself each and every day in practice like everyone else.”

Langs will fill the void Barnett left after graduating, but she will not be alone in replacing the production that Barnett provided for the team.

“She will be the one that is called upon, but I think that we have some other players that have worked on transitioning to play on that perimeter and also some newcomers in the offense,” Williams said.

Last season, after center Korynn Hincka went down with an injury, the Lakers lacked size and a true center. This year, GVSU bolstered their roster with a talented freshmen class, including 6’4” Cassidy Boensch. Boensch played 18 minutes off the bench in the exhibition game against Dayton.

Boensch was not the only freshman that played double-digit minutes against Dayton. Jenn DeBoer played 11 minutes off the bench and scored 6 points on two 3-pointers.

“(DeBoer) is a point guard type player that is really a knock-down shooter,” Williams said. “She brings in that piece coming off the bench that is going to be very helpful for us.”

With the experience and the youth that the Lakers will be sporting on the court this season, the team will look to be in contention for the GLIAC title.

The Lakers will host the GLIAC/GLVC Challenge in the regular season opener. GVSU will play Quincy Saturday, Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m. and Truman State the following day at 3 p.m.