Friday, October 12, 2018

Bradley Women's Basketball "ready to rock and roll" at Red-White Scrimmage on Saturday

PHOTO / ALEX STAAB
Peoria, Ill. - First official practice - check. Spaghetti Supper - check. Next item on the checklist for the Bradley Women's Basketball team is the first time for the public to see Squad 44, as they refer to themselves, in action. 44 being that this is the 44th season of women's basketball at Bradley University.

The Braves both return a solid core of players, while also adding on just as solid of newcomers. The leading scorer from last season, Gabi Haack, is just one. Haack averaged 10.5 points per game in 17-18, while also being second on the team in rebounds, averaging 5.9 per game. In case fans have forgotten, the sophomore and Elk River, Minnesota native drained 68 three-pointers, 39 more than Braves alum Anneke Schlueter, who hit 29.

Now seniors, Vanessa Markert and Shunseere Kent round out the top three scorers for the Braves, all of whom return. Markert scoring 296 points, averaging 9.5 per game, and Kent scored 268, averaging 8.6 per game.

Chelsea Brackmann is a name to watch in the rebounding category for sure, and perhaps more. Brackmann brought down a team-high 194 rebounds last year, trailing only Gabi Haack. Brackmann also narrowly missed being the sixth Brave to score 200 or more points.

As a team, the Braves out-scored their opponents, 2,040-1,956. They shot 40.9% from the field, 32.3% from behind the arc, and 67.3% from the charity stripe. On top of that, the Braves averaged nearly 40 rebounds per game, 39.5 to be exact.

As far as this season's schedule goes, there are certainly some games to watch on the non-conference side of things. The Braves will head to Boca Raton, Florida on November 23rd and 24th for the Florida Atlantic Tournament. If there had to be a 'marquee' non-conference game, it'd be the matchup against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. That game is at Renaissance Coliseum on December 4th, and to our understanding, it's the annual Kids Day, a game that last year drew a crowd of 3,096. Keep in mind that's just over 1,000 people from a full house.

The Braves will face another Big 10 opponent, also on the road. Last year, it was a 74-62 loss at Illinois. This year, Bradley will travel to West Lafayette, Indiana, and take on the Purdue Boilermakers. That game is the Braves' last road game of 2018, scheduled for Friday, December 21st, at 11:00 am.

A significant Missouri Valley opponent is a date that always seems to be circled on the calendar for the Braves, and that would be the Drake Bulldogs. Luckily for Bradley, they won't have to wait long. Bradley - Drake is the first conference game, scheduled for January 4th at 7:00 pm.

The Red-White Scrimmage is set to begin at 2:00 pm on Saturday, October 13th, at Renaissance Coliseum.

Roster Breakdown:
All Returnees: Gabi Haack, Chelsea Brackmann, Ryan Wilkins, Jailynn Lawson, Shunseere Kent, Amber Bozeman, Emily Marsh, Vanessa Markert, Nyjah White
All Newcomers: Ellisha Davis, Aannah Interrante, Lasha Petree, Asia Strong, Tatum Koenig, Ellie Spelhaug

Coaching Staff:
Head Coach (3rd Season; 25 wins, 37 losses): Andrea Gorski
Assistant Coach (3rd Season): Paul Fessler
Assistant Coach (3rd Season): Christena Hamilton
Assistant Coach (3rd Season): Kristi Zeller
Director of Women's Basketball Operations (1st Season): Dee Davis
Coordinator of Player Development (3rd Season): Erica Yost

Full Schedule | Click HERE
Full Roster | Click HERE

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Buy Single Game Tickets | Click HERE

They Said It | HC Andrea Gorski 
On dealing with rising expectations
"Just keep moving forward. Move forward with the culture and the competitiveness of the program and compete for championships."

On the newcomers
"We're pretty fired up about our freshmen right now. They're all different. That's what's neat about them. They're different positions. They all have different strengths. They don't back down to anyone. Their focus is on winning a championship. They are all in."

On Gabi Haack, Nyjah White, and Jailynn Lawson
"Gabi and Nyjah played a ton for us last year. We feel like both of them are going to have a huge year. Both have elevated their game. They've spent a lot of time in the gym getting better and stronger. Gabi can get to the basket and finish really well now. She's got a quicker first step. She's always been a great rebounder. Her pull-up jumper is much improved. She's (Nyjah) a great athlete as well. She's improved on her skill level. They're just committed. Jailynn (Lawson) has really stepped up her game and her conditioning is at a different level. Very versatile guard. Smart player."

On some key returnees
"So far, so good. I think our upperclassmen, Vanessa and Shun in particular, have a renewed focus. She's (Shunseere) added a lot of muscle to her game. Vanessa's just had a monstrous pre-season. She's in the best shape of her life. She's (Chelsea) been one of our leaders so far."

On new Director of Operations, Dee Davis
"She brings a lot of street cred. She just relates to the players very well. She just came in and we just threw her right in the fire and she's been great. She's got energy, and she's very versatile. Dustyn was great for us, we really miss him. Dee, you couldn't ask for more with what she's brought to the program."

They Said It | #24, Shunseere Kent
On expectations for 2018-2019
"This is a good squad. I feel something different - the energy's different. The grind is different. Everybody comes out here ready to work."

On Dee Davis
"Dee's really cool. Just having that work ethic of being at Vanderbilt and in the WNBA. She knows what it takes. She sees potential in each and every one of us."

They Said It | #44, Vanessa Markert
On what's expected of the Braves this season
"I think from an expectations standpoint, I think it's important to keep raising the bar. We're doing that by pushing ourselves harder on the court, in the weight room, making sure that we have a better sense of what Bradley basketball stands for. I think we welcome the challenge."

On the addition of Dee Davis
"She (Dee) has a high basketball IQ. She brought a lot of energy immediately to the program. We're seeing the results already."

On an injury-free offseason
"Luckily, I had an offseason where I didn't have to deal with an injury, so I really capitalized on that by improving my body image, getting stronger, getting faster, working on some of my weaknesses. I'm that much more ready for when the season comes."

On beginning her final year at Bradley
"It's bittersweet, but it's also time to put everything that I've worked for into action."

On what the Red-White Scrimmage means
"The Red-White Scrimmage means that games are just around the corner. I think it's an important milestone to see where we're at as a team. I'm excited for it."

They Said It | #3, Gabi Haack
On going from new to recognized
"This year, most teams know I'm a shooter, so I really have to adjust my game and find new ways to get open. Develop a pull-up jumper, look to drive more. This year, I'm really focusing on learning new moves and also becoming stronger."

On transitioning from Year 1 to Year 2
"Year one was a lot of learning new plays, play with new people, playing at a whole new level. Just that one year of experience has really helped me realize what it takes to play Division-I basketball and what it takes to play in the Missouri Valley Conference."

On the anticipation of starting a new season
"We've been working hard, ever since June. I think we're all really excited to get the season going. We had a really good pre-season. We all have big goals for this season."

On the personality of Dee Davis
"We love Dee Davis. She brings energy every day. She's always pushing us. She's a great addition to our staff. I'm really glad that we get to have her as a coach this year."

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