2013 - 2014 Preview
The Lady Wolves are hoping to get off to a better start than last year's team that went 2-8 in their first 10 games. The 2012-13 season ended when they lost to the College of DuPage 61-57 to prevent a third consecutive regional finals appearance. On a positive note, Joliet was able to earn an impressive thirty-one point playoff victory over Milwaukee Area Technical College.
The women's basketball coaching staff is very excited about this year's team. The team features seven sophomores and eight freshman. Although the first-year players are inexperienced at the collegiate level, seven of the eight were starters and major contributors to their high school programs. Coach Sanderson is expecting them to come in and make a major contribution to this years team right away.
Returning sophomore players include Laporschia Williams, Brittany Baker, Tanisha Taylor, and Carisa Banks.
Last year, Laporschia Williams developed into one of the top rebounders on the team. She also established herself as one of the few players in the conference that could defend both perimeter and post players.
"Laporschia probably worked the hardest this summer to improve her basketball skills. She continues to develop a good work ethic and her confidence is growing," Sanderson said.
Brittany Baker is expected to continue her physical and tough style of play. She is a very good defender and unselfish person who enjoys watching her teammates score.
"Brittany is not your traditional back to the basket post player. She's great at creating space and frustrating opposing post players," Sanderson said.
Tanisha Taylor enters this season with limited playing experience but with a lot of confidence. Her long range shooting will help put points on the board against a zone defense.
"During the last two weeks of practice last year something clicked for Tanisha. She became more consistent in making her shots. It has carried over into our preseason," Sanderson said.
Tasia Lofton and Carisa Banks return to the team as well. Both have been improving and continue to get better each day.
"Tasia and Carisa are great teammates. They don't complain about any decisions that we make and support their teammates," Sanderson said.
It appears every season that the Lady Wolves inherit a couple of transfers on the roster. This year, those transfers are Karlisa Harris (Hillcrest) and Kanitral Averhart (Proviso West).
Karlisa Harris comes to Joliet after transferring from Division I Kaskaskia College. She arrives to Joliet at a perfect time with no returning point guards.
"Karlisa has the ability to score and has shown she is capable of running a team. She is very poised on the court which seems to carry over to the team," Sanderson said.
Kanitral Averhart will bring instant energy and excitement on defense. Opposing guards will find out what smothering defense is when Kanitral defends them.
"There aren't many players that I have told they play too hard. Kanitral's aggressive style is the only way she knows to play. She will set the tone on defense," Sanderson said.
In 2010, Coach Sanderson recruited eleven talented freshmen which were able to earn them a trip to the NJCAA National tournament. He believes this group of freshman is just as talented and could possibly follow in their footsteps.
This year's class includes a trio from Oswego East with Brittany McWaine, Le'royia Campbell and LaNisha Cruickshank. The other freshman include Bernasia Fox (Joliet Central), Samantha Wurtz (Minooka), Rosalinda Vazquez and Micaela Rampage (Homewood-Flossmoor).
Brittany McWaine, Le'royia Campbell, and LaNisha Cruickshank have played together in high school and carried it over to Joliet.
"The trio from Oswego East are familiar playing with each other over such a long period of time. They will have an immediate impact right away in our system," Shaun Sanderson stated.
Bernasia will make her debut midseason as she recovers from an injury she suffered during her senior year. The team will welcome her with open arms when that time comes.
"Bernasia will be an outstanding player in our system when she returns. She can score, defend, and make others around her better," Sanderson said.
Joliet will reload with a long range shooter when Samantha Wurtz takes the floor. At 5'10", Sam will probably be the tallest guard in the conference.
"Sam shoots the ball very well and is fundamentally sound. Hopefully Sam's shooting ability will alter how each team defends us," Sanderson said.
The quietest person on the court will probably be Rosalinda Vazquez, but she will make a lot of noise with her productivity.
"Rosie does all the little things that you don't keep statistics for. Playing against taller players will not matter because she constantly puts herself in the right place at the right time. Rosie continues to surprise our coaching staff,'" Sanderson said.
The guard position will have added depth from the three point line and the defensive end of the floor when Shavonte London suits up.
"Shavonte will frustrate ball handlers with her relentless defensive pressure. She was born to defend," Sanderson said.
Alexis Oglesby rounds out the talented quick defensive guards Joliet will have this year.
"Alexis has a tremendous upside. She possesses all the tools to be a complete player we just have to show her how to use them," Sanderson said.
In the last three years, the N4C conference has transitioned to having dominate post players. Coach Sanderson recognizes the change and counters with more help on the interior with Micaela Rampage.
"Micaela helps us in several ways. Her size, strength, mid-range shooting, and her rebounding ability will make an immediate impact," Sanderson said.
The sidelines will look familiar as George Lowery and Ryan Harris return for another season.
"Not every team can say they have stability and as much experience as we have. It's a bonus when your support staff is familiar with the system we have in place and expectations," Sanderson said.
Joliet will have a new face on the sideline with Rex Shanyfelt. After eight years at Illinois Valley college where he was responsible for recruiting and scouting opposing teams, Rex is no stranger to this region.
"We are thrilled to have Rex join our staff he is very familiar with our system and is a good recruiter," Sanderson said.
The first year players will find out immediately what college basketball is all about when they travel to play Illinois Central College. Before a home opener with Prairie State, the Lady Wolves will travel to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to take on Kirkwood and Iowa Central. The schedule also features games against Lake Michigan, Kishwaukee, Illinois Valley, Elgin, Malcolm X, South Suburban, and Kankakee all of which have played at the national tournament in recent years. Other non-conference games include McHenry, Olive-Harvey, Daley, Moraine Valley and Fox Valley.
Coach Sanderson knows it will not be easy to return to Minnesota to compete for a national title. Back to back national champion Rock Valley College has recruited well and will be ready to defend their title. Also improving the talent on their rosters are the College of DuPage, Madison College, and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
In the last five years, three of the national championships have been won by two teams in the N4C Conference (Madison College).
"Our conference is arguably the toughest in the country. The non-conference schedule will prepare us for the title run."
"There is an excitement in the air with this group. They come to the gym with lots of energy every single day. I don't have to ask them to play hard and they support one another in every drill and workout. This could be an interesting year to watch," Sanderson said.