BEREA, OHIO -- The 2011-2012 Baldwin-Wallace College basketball teams begin its schedule on Tuesday, November 15 when the men and women host a doubleheader in the Rudolph Ursprung Gymnasium in the Lou Higgins Center. Each team is expected to be improved and seeking an Ohio Athletic Conference title.
The Yellow Jacket women, 18-8 a year ago, open the schedule against traditional rival Wittenberg University at 8:00 p.m. and were tabbed by the OAC Coaches to finish second this season. The B-W men, 9-16 overall last season, open against Cleveland cross-town rival Case Western Reserve University at 6:00 p.m. and were tabbed seventh by the OAC Coaches in its annual preseason poll.
The women's basketball team returns four starters and 10 letter winners and is listed among the Others Receiving Votes in both the d3hoops.com and USA Today/ESPN Division III Coaches polls.
The Yellow Jacket women will look to senior forward Catherine Spisak (Sandusky/ St. Mary's Central Catholic) and junior All-OAC guard Jessica Carpenter (North Canton/ Hoover) to provide leadership for a deep team. Spisak looks to lead the way in the paint. She scored 6.2 points and averaged a team-leading 8.2 rebounds per game last season. She also shot 82.9% from the free throw stripe and contributed 27 assists, 22 steals and nine blocked shots.
Carpenter is the leading scorer among returnees, averaging 9.3 ppg. a year ago. She also led the team with 33 three-pointers and had 47 assists and 32 steals.
The return of junior forward/ center Nancy Coulter (Washington Court House/ Miami Trace), who missed last season with an injury, will help on the inside. Two years ago, Coulter scored 7.6 ppg. and grabbed 4.3 rpg. Sophomores Lexi Rohrbach (Tiffin/ Columbian), Jessica Lairson (Louisville) and Natalia Simovic (Seven Hills/ Normandy) to help inside. Rohrbach scored 6.3 ppg., grabbed 5.5 rpg. and blocked 18 shots. Lairson can play both inside and outside. She scored 8.7 ppg., grabbed 3.7 rpg. and can shoot from the perimeter as she canned 20 three's. She also had 13 blocked shots.
At the point guard, look for Rachel Rossman (Olmsted Falls) to start for the third straight season. She scored 4.4 ppg. and had 74 assists and 31 steals last winter. Look for junior Megan Frisina (Corry, Pa./ Corry Area) to aid in the backcourt after scoring 4.6 ppg. with 22 triples.
"We will have quite a bit of competition during camp for spots in the rotation," said Head Coach Cheri Harrer, the school's winningest women's basketball coach with 433 career victories. "We return a number of solid veterans and we have a number of newcomers who will push them every day to get better. We play a challenging schedule and are looking forward to the season."
The men's basketball team returns four starters and 10 lettermen from a year ago and will look to senior All-Ohio Athletic Conference point guard Promis Cabbil (Elyria) and sophomore All-OAC forward Kyle Payne (Brunswick) to lead the way this season. Cabbil and Payne are two of the best returning players in the OAC at their respective positions.
Cabbil will start at the point for the fourth straight season and enters his final campaign with 643 career points, 258 assists and 109 steals. He also shoots 80 percent from the foul line (227-of-285), including many in late-game, clutch situations. Payne, last year's OAC Freshman of the Year, averaged a team-high 15.3 points-per-game, shot 54.9 percent (128-of-233) from the field and 45.7% (21-of-46) from behind the three-point arc. He also pulled in 4.8 rpg.
Look for sophomore sharpshooter Grant Fairhurst (Ashland) and freshman Jaron Crowe (Mentor), who missed last season with an injury, to help in the backcourt. Fairhurst scored 7.1 ppg. and made a team-high 44 three-pointers, including tying a school single-game record with eight.
Look for junior Ben Umbel (Poland/ Seminary) and sophomore Kevin Krakowiak (Valley City/ Holy Name) to continue to help both inside and out. Umbel, who transferred to B-W from Youngstown State, scored 3.1 ppg. a year ago and is one of the most athletic players on the team. Krakowiak had a strong frosh season by scoring 9.5 ppg., making 34 triples and canning a school-record 94.5% of his foul shots (52-of-55). Also, senior Brandon Schmidt (Wellington) has experience as a starter.
Look for Payne to be joined at forward by juniors Chris Ameen (Broadview Heights/ Walsh Jesuit) and Sean Rothermel (Delaware/ Hayes), sophomores Scott Branchick (Mentor) and Aaron Selmek (Delaware/ Columbus St. Francis DeSales) and transfer Tyler Ferrell (Brunswick).
The hard-working quintet are solid offensively and defensively. Ameen has started each of his first two years and scores 9.9 ppg. and grabs 5.9 rpg. He also can step out on the perimeter and made 10 three's last season. Rothermel scored 4.3 ppg. and grabbed 2.4 rpg. and made 67% of his field goals (42-of-63). Branchick, who missed his freshman year due to an injury, added depth and strength last season and scored 1.1 ppg. Selmek scored 2.8 ppg. and grabbed 3.0 rpg. and gained valuable experience.
"We bring back a number of experienced players and will continue to work hard every day with the goal of winning an OAC title and advancing to the NCAA Division III Tournament," said fourth-year coach Duane Sheldon. "We have to stay focused and play one game at a time. We are looking forward to the start of the season."
Following its season-opening twinbill in Berea, the women next play on Nov. 18-19 at the Manchester (Ind.) College Tournament and play Denison University in its first game at 6:00 p.m. The men travel to Bethany (W.Va.) College on Nov. 18 for a 7:00 p.m. contest. The OAC schedule begins on December 3 when the Yellow Jackets play Marietta College.
FOR MORE B-W Sports Information, please contact Sports Information Director Kevin Ruple by telephone at 440-826-2327 and e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. or Assistant SID Jeff Miller by phone at 440-826-2780 and email at email@example.com Fans can access the latest B-W athletics information at www.bw.edu/athletics and we invite you to join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bwyellowjackets and Twitter at http://twitter.com/bwathletics.