Cassidy Boensch proving to be a force for GVSU women’s hoops

GVL / Emily Frye 
Cassidy Boensch agaisnt Rochester College on Friday Nov. 18, 2016

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Cassidy Boensch agaisnt Rochester College on Friday Nov. 18, 2016

Josh Peick

Following a run to the Final Four last season with an all-junior starting five, the Grand Valley State women’s basketball team is relying again on the same five this season. In the first half of the season, the seniors consistently played 30 minutes or more per game and have started all but one game.

But in recent weeks, the Lakers have turned to their youth for quality minutes off the bench. One beneficiary to the added minutes is 6’4” freshman Cassidy Boensch.

Boensch, a product of John Glenn High School in Westland, Michigan, led her high school team to a Final Four appearance in her senior year. Her arrival at GVSU gave the Lakers a unique presence on the low block.

“She brings a spark to the team because you don’t have too many 6’4” players in the GLIAC,” said senior Piper Tucker. “I just (tell her) go hard and make your minutes worthwhile.”

Tucker is just one of many seniors that assist Boensch in becoming more acclimated with the intensity of college basketball. In her freshmen year, Boensch will have the unique experience of being able to learn from seven seniors who have deep postseason experience.

“I was excited to play under seven seniors because they worked so hard four years here and they are great people to learn from,” Boensch said. “(Tucker) is always pushing me to do my best and get better every day.”

Through 13 games this season, Boensch has gradually received more playing time. In six of the last eight games, she has logged double-digit minutes.

But for Boensch it is not about the number of minutes she plays on the floor, but how effective she is when she is in the game.

“(My role) is being able to get quality minutes in whenever they need it,” Boensch said. “We have such a strong group of seniors and juniors, so it’s not about the quantity of minutes but the quality.”

Not only has she provided the Lakers with quality minutes, but she has provided production on the offensive side of the floor. She is beginning to draw more defenders to her on the low block, which is opening up the perimeter for the Lakers’ deadly outside attack.

“She has a great presence in the paint and when her confidence gets even higher she’s going to draw even more defenders,” said senior Bailey Cairnduff. “She opens up (the outside) for all of our shooters.”

With each added minute, Boensch is becoming more comfortable on the floor and surprising opposing defenses with her ability. She has scored double-digit points in two games so far this season.

“She can put it on the deck,” said GVSU coach Mike Williams. “She can put it on the floor and get by people at her size which is another added weapon.”

Boensch’s contributions are not limited to the offensive side of the ball. She provides the Lakers with a menacing force in the paint for opposing offenses.

The Lakers hold the top defense in the GLIAC, and Boensch has recorded a team-high 12 blocks on the season.

“Her length is something that really helps us,” Cairnduff said. “If a 5’5” guard drives and sees her (in the paint), they are most likely not going to go in there.”

According to Williams, post players take more time to develop compared to other positions. This is due to the fact that many teams try to expand the range of a taller player, making them a threat from the outside. But through the first half of the season, Williams is pleased with Boensch’s development and gives her high praise and aspirations.

“She’s got a chance to be one of the best players in our league the next few years,” Williams said. “I think she wants to be, and I think she will be.”