The United States Merchant Marine Academy Women's Basketball Team will open their season this Saturday, November 17th against the Knights of Berkeley College at 1:00 PM.
Tabbed fifth in the conference by the Landmark coaches, the Mariners enter the year looking to improve on their 10-15, 4-10 record from last season. Returning 9 players from last year's squad, having only graduated one senior, and adding three talented freshmen, Merchant Marine is poised to turn some heads within the conference.
Along with posting 8.1 PPG, Josephs was a defensive force for Kings Point last season. She was the only USMMA player to reach triple digits in defensive rebounds with 107. Josephs also led the team in steals with 75; the fourth highest single season total for a female Mariner in academy history. She is currently on pace to rank second on the all-time steals list by season's end. Josephs is currently 8th on the academy all-time assists list, and tied for 10th in blocks.
USMMA will look to Kaileh for offense and possession control. In 2011-12, she was one of only two Mariners to average double digit scoring figures with 10.6 PPG. Kaileh also had the fewest turnovers of any returning Mariner who played over 500 minutes. Her .389 field goal percentage led all shooters who had a minimum of 60 attempts.
Along with Kaileh and Josephs, the Mariners will lean heavily on sophomore guard Demi VanDerWal (Springfield, IL) who had a breakout season for Merchant Marine in 2011-12. VanDerWal led the team in scoring as a freshman with a total of 340 points and 13.6 PPG. USMMA will look to her outside shooting and poise at the free throw line to bolster their scoring threat. Last year, she led the team in each of those categories with 31 three pointers and a .859 free throw percentage.
Merchant Marine will look to see larger contributions in the frontcourt from junior forwards Kristina Walz (Monona, IA) and Alexandra Winfree (Millstone, NJ), and in the backcourt from junior guard Katie Franchois (Perkasie, PA). Walz, a presence inside, and Winfree, an outside scorer, can prove to be a solid tandem if they find their stride in the upcoming season. Franchois will look to add depth and support to the Merchant Marine backcourt.
The returning sophomores could prove to be the difference makers for this year's team. Forwards Sara Ellenberger (Phoenix, AZ) and Rebecca Resor (Bay St. Louis, MS) look to use their size and strength to build on their solid freshman campaigns, while guard Jacque Weymann (San Diego, CA) returns to action after missing her freshman year due to injury.
Newcomers to the Mariner squad include freshmen guards Marlee Chorvich (Lake Oswego, OR) and Nicole Evanko (New Britain, CT) as well as forward Rachel Smith (Broomfield, CO); who look to step in and make an immediate an impact for Kings Point.
On the bench, Matt Dempsey returns for his fifth season as Mariner's Head Coach. At USMMA Dempsey has compiled a 40-60 record, totaling a cumulative head coaching ledger of 294-251. Alexa Shields returns for her fifth season as assistant coach, and a new addition to the Kings Point coaching staff, Katie Brunck begins her first season with the Mariners.
Highlights of the Mariner schedule include the home opener against Berkeley (NY) on November 17th, the Landmark Conference opener against Goucher at home on December 1st, a road matchup against D-I service academy, Army, on December 13th, senior day prior to the final home match against Juniata on February 9th, and a trip to rival Coast Guard on February 11th.