2011-12 Women's Basketball Preview

The Ohio Christian University women's basketball team has high expectations for the 2011-12 season.  After finishing third at the NCCAA DII National Tournament last season, Head Coach Mandy Wray, in her sixth year at the helm of the Lady Trailblazers, brings back five returning players from last year's team, including Shelby Roe, Sharonda Jones, Brittany Rucker, Kim Craycraft, Chelsea Black, and Amy Jo Bishop.

Junior Shelby Roe averaged 9.9 points per game last season and still holds the school record for 3-pointers in a season with 64.  She also shot over 90% from the free throw line last season.  Shelby is an excellent outside shooter who has worked hard to become a versatile player that can score in a variety of ways.

Sophomores Sharonda Jones, Brittany Rucker, Chelsea Black, and Kim Craycraft are all looking to contribute this year.  Jones, a Mid-East Region Honorable Mention selection as a freshman, averaged 9.2 points per game last season.  She is recovering from ankle surgery over the summer, but is working hard to be back making an impact on the floor.  Rucker can knock down the 3 point shot, and she is a very hard worker, always working hard to continue to improve and develop her game.  Black, a leader on the floor, will play both the point and off-guard positions this season. Craycraft has worked hard this summer to improve all aspects of her game. She has developed excellent ball-handling skills and worked on her footwork.  Coach Wray will look for her to run the point guard position this season and keep the pace and tempo of the game up.

Red-shirt freshman Amy Jo Bishop missed all of last season due to an ankle injury.  She is excited to be back on the court and ready to play this season.  Amy Jo is a versatile guard that can score from any spot on the floor.  She understands the game and makes those around her better.

Two “newcomers” to this year’s squad are no strangers to the Lady Trailblazer uniform.  Dannyel Butte and Kristen Hughes, both members of the 2010 OCU National Runner-up team, have returned to play for Coach Wray’s Lady Blazers this season.  As a freshman, Butte received First Team All-Region and Second Team All-American honors.  She is an explosive guard and uses her speed at both ends of the floor.  Hughes is a great defender and always seems to come up with a steal when it is needed most.

Junior transfer Kara Zwick (Cincinnati State) will be a dominating force inside the paint this season.  Kara has an excellent post game and can dominate inside, but she is also a great passer from the post. 

This year’s freshmen include: Sarah Bechtel (Worthington Kilbourne), Abbey Fox (Toledo Christian), Maritza Will (Franklin Heights), Brittany Harmon (Madison Christian).  Bechtel is an outside shooter that comes from a great high school program and also has a good knowledge of the game.  Fox will bring athleticism and speed to Coach Wray’s squad this season.  She plays hard every minute and will provide a spark for the Lady Blazers this season.  Maritza is a natural leader and an excellent defender.  She plays the forward/post position, and she can run the floor extremely well.  Harmon will add depth to the guard position.  She has worked hard this summer to continue to develop her game, and she has a real passion for the game. 

Transfers Jillian Mayle and Ebony Solomon are both working hard to become eligible to play starting in January.  Mayle will add depth to the post position and is a solid player that will be able to contribute in a variety of ways.  Solomon will be a great addition to the point guard position.  She can speed up the tempo of the game and attacks the basket very well. 

"I'm very excited about this season," said head coach Mandy Wray. "This is by far the most balanced team we have had here at OCU.  We have a great combination of size, speed, shooters, and athleticism coming in to add to our solid core of returners.  Our returning players and new additions give us a great combination of young women, and as long as we remember to give God the glory in all we do, I think we have the potential to have a very special season."