Seniors look to lead GVSU into season
After an injury-plagued campaign last season, the Grand Valley State University women’s basketball team has focused on an elementary aspect of basketball entering this season — teamwork.
“My expectation is for us to play as well as we can as a team,” said head coach Janel Burgess. “I’m excited for the balanced attack we’ll have this season.”
The Lakers will rely heavily on All-GLIAC First Teamer Briauna Taylor. The senior guard led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals last season en route to 14.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game averages.
“Bri is a well-rounded player,” Burgess said. “She is unique because she is so strong when it comes to rebounding and finishing at the basket.”
Taylor’s ability to get to the hoop complements her ability to shoot from behind the arc. She shot more than 35 percent from 3-point range last season.
“The coaches say I’m a combo guard,” Taylor said. “My ability to shoot and drive forces the defender to play me true, they can’t cheat.”
Taylor’s roommate will also play a huge role for the Lakers.
Senior Alex Stelfox rejoins the Lakers after missing 12 games last season due to injury. Her 93 blocked shots rank as the fifth most in school history, and the 6-2 center should provide a low-post presence on both ends of the court.
“I’m really excited to have her back,” Taylor said. “I can’t wait to drive and dish the ball down low.”
Stelfox was named to the Preseason All-GLIAC North Division first team, along with senior guard Lauren Stodola (Jenison, Mich.) who was named to the second team.
Stodola also suffered a significant injury last season, and was limited to only eight games. She averaged 8.3 points per game last year, and will be a big part of the balanced attack.
Taylor, Stelfox and Stodola are the lone seniors on the roster this season, and will be looked upon to lead a team that welcomes six new players, two transfers and four freshmen.
“There’s a lot of new faces out there,” Taylor said. “But if we come out and play hard as a team, we should be successful. I saw some double-teams last year, but I don’t expect to see that as often.”
The Lakers were ranked third in the GLIAC North Preseason Poll, and in order to make a run for the conference title, they will need to play as one cohesive unit.
“We’ve lacked synergy in years past,” Stelfox said. “When we face adversity on the court, we need to stick together and stay positive. We want that GLIAC championship, and we’re not leaving without it.”
The Lakers open the season at home versus Olivet on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m.