Gordon Reimer realizes there’s really no where to go but up.
His McPherson College women’s basketball team took a step back last year with a 4-26 record, but it did avoid the KCAC basement by going 3-15, leaving that distinction to Bethany.
So Reimer went out and hit the recruiting trail hard and the result is a team he believes will easily more than double last year’s meager victory total, even triple it.
The new-look Bulldogs open their season here Thursday hosting a Hillsdale Baptist team coming off a 24-3 season and loaded with transfers, so the Bulldogs are going to find out in a hurry just how they stack up against the elite.
It’s a rather unusual starting time as tipoff is set for 5 p.m. at the Sport Center, with 96.7 KBBE airing the game with Chris Swick on the play-by-play call.
Last year’s team was hamstrung from the start when three probable starters did not return, taking with them about 35 points a game. That left Reimer with a small team in terms of size and depth, as it basically was an eight-person rotation.
Reimer took tireless steps to improve the team’s talent and depth. He likes what he’s seen in practice and he has 10 players that he mentioned as possibilities for playing time.
Three starters are for sure. Bailey Brown and Sunny Smart combined for nearly 30 points a game as they’re one of the top returning 1-2 punches in the KCAC. Exciting freshman Kristina Battle joins them in the backcourt of the three-guard attack. Reimer believes she’ll provide the type of point guard play the team was missing last year.
Megan Acklin, who Reimer says is one of his most improved players, has worked her way into the lineup, while the fifth spot is occupied by Ashton Bruner.
The former McPherson Bullpup clearly is one of the KCAC’s most-talked-about newcomers. She put up some terrific numbers in her two years at Barton County, then spent last year at Emporia State where if her numbers were projected over 40 minutes, she would have averaged a double-double.
“Ashton makes us 10 wins better than last year by herself,” said Reimer, noting she’s a relentless player on the inside and gets a lot of points off sheer hustle.
If Bruner and Acklin can take care of the inside, Brown and Smart will handle the outside. Brown would have been a first-team KCAC pick last year had the Bulldogs’ record been better. Smart is a bomber and a plus, Reimer said, is that he’s added some 3-point shooters through recruiting so she won’t be counted on to carry the 3-point attack.
Georgia Smart will battle Acklin for playing time at the post and at times she can be a dominating offensive force. A player Reimer really likes is freshman Brooke Racette, the former Trinity Catholic star whose father Sean was a standout football player at McPherson College. Freshman Amanda Allen and transfer Reagan McClellan will lend depth.
One interesting newcomer is guard Kendahl Kelly, who has joined the team from Denmark and can really shoot the 3. However, she’s been slowed with an injury and may not play at the outset.