‘Team effort’ necessary for Summit League run

With new additions and a few players returning from injury, a young Oakland University women’s basketball team will look to make a run in the Summit League in 2011.

The season kicked off with head coach Beckie Francis, along with members of the  team, taking part in Media Day.

The theme emphasized by Oakland during the press conference was it will be “a team effort” this season.

“One person can’t get you to win the Summit League championship, it’s all about the team,” junior forward Bethany Watterworth said. “I know my teammates have my back, my teammates are very important for our success.”

Oakland will also be healthy, after three teammates who missed most of last season due to injury return, and four incoming freshmen join the team.

Victoria Lipscomb, Jenna Bachrouche and Amy Carlton only played in a combined 16 games last season and will look to build on three 20-win seasons in four years.

Two of the four freshmen joining the team are forward, Shelby Herrington and guard Peyton Apsey, both from Hemlock, Mich.  They led their team to the Class C State Semifinals as high school seniors.

The other freshmen, guards Lauren Robak and Halle Wrangler, were both standouts in the Catholic League. Robak led Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes to two straight Class D State titles while Wrangler helped Royal Oak Shrine win a district title.

Francis made it a point to recruit from high level basketball programs, noting several players have won state championships or made it far into the state tournament in high school.

“We try to recruit from the top high school programs in the area,” Francis said. “Everybody on this team is from a very successful winning program.”

Another key addition for OU will be size. For most of last season, Carnago was the only active player OU had that was at least 6-0. Now there are three other players, Bachrouche, Herrington and sophomore Julia Vestin, who fit this description.

Francis described all three players as being “good inside-out players” with the ability to play on the post and the perimeter.

The OU backcourt will also have a great amount of depth with nine guards.

According to Francis, all of the guards collectively are very skilled shooters.

With the makeup of this year’s team, Calhoun believes that the Grizzlies’ chances of winning the Summit League championship are “great.”

“This team that we have this year is just amazing,” Calhoun said. “The work ethic that they (the other players) have, our defense is already looking great.”

The Grizzlies will play their first exhibition game at home at the O’Rena against Ferris State on Oct. 29 at 1 p.m.