November 8, 2013
There have been a lot of changes since the conclusion of the 2012-13 MacMurray College women’s basketball season and the beginning of the 2013-14 season. One of the biggest changes is at the head coach position. Long-time MacMurray College men’s and women’s assistant coach Derek James was promoted to women’s Head Coach when former Athletic Director and Head Women’s Coach Dane Pavlovich resigned last spring to become the Dean of Athletics at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kan.
For new Head Coach Derek James, who was inducted into the SLIAC Hall of Fame last spring for his outstanding career on the Highlanders’ men’s basketball team from 2000-2004 and also serves as the Head Men’s and Women’s Golf Coach at MacMurray, this is an opportunity to build a consistently successful small-college basketball program. James has been around the game long enough to understand that building a winning program takes time.
“I am looking forward to building a program where the players succeed on the court, in the classroom and in our community,” said James as he prepares his team for the start of the 2013-14 season.
The Highlanders are led by senior captain Gabrielle Douglas who looks to push the Highlanders day in and day out. Other seniors include captain Breezy Walton, Dana Steben and Ashley Jenkins. “Ashley comes back to us after a year off and she provides instant offense for our team,” James noted.
Juniors Fonashay Potter and Megan Duisen are very solid inside post players who will contribute both offensively and defensively; and junior forward Amanda Howard has shown the flexibility to play multiple positions for the Highlanders. “Our bigs will be key to our success and all of them have worked hard and have come a long way in this program,” said James.
The sophomore class includes Jen Cox, Akita Fugate, and Emily Riddle. Coach James sees this trio providing solid depth and stability to the roster. “If we’re going to play the up-tempo, high-energy style that we want to establish for our program, then we need every player on our team to contribute and to be ready when they’re called on,” added James.
The new-look Highlanders also boast a talented group of six freshmen who are expected to contribute immediately to the program. The “New Era” of Highlanders includes KayDee Carmody, Cydny Saxer, Carley Prince, Rachel Kerr, Emily Elliott and Jordan Wall.
“I can’t express enough or completely the excitement that exists around our incoming freshman class…they have the ability to step up right away and help our program reach a higher level in this conference,” said James.
The Highlanders begin the 2013-14 season with a trip to Webster University on November 15-16 to play in their tip-off invitational. MacMurray College will face Nebraska Wesleyan College on Friday night; and then take on Calumet College of St. Joseph in Saturday’s game.
The Highlanders are looking to improve upon their 2012-13 season, when they went 10-14 overall and placed 7th in the SLIAC league standings with a 7-9 record. While there are a lot of unanswered questions—questions that will be answered as the season progresses—Coach James is optimistic about the Highlanders’ chances for success this season.
“With a solid group of returning players, a very strong group of newcomers and an exciting style of basketball; I believe team will be fun coach, fun to watch and fun for our fans to support this year,” said James.