A new basketball season is often viewed as a rebuilding year when a team has lost four-of-five starters from a previous championship season.
For coach Brian Morehouse's Flying Dutch 2011-12 should be more a matter of reloading than rebuilding.
The Flying Dutch are coming off a 27-3 season and are absent four graduating seniors who were part of the most successful four-year era in Hope women's basketball history posting a 117-8 record.
Morehouse, who begins his 16th season and is currently the second winningest active NCAA Division coach (375-63, 856), approaches basketball as being more than a five-player game. Last year 10 players averaged double-digit minutes. This year it means he returns seven players who have considerable varsity playing experience.
Co-captains of the team will be senior Maddie Burnett of Grand Rapids (Northview HS), senior Allie Cerone of Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton North HS), junior Liz Ellis of Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS), and junior Meredith Kussmaul of Hartland (Hartland HS).
Burnett and Cerone are the only seniors on the 14 player varsity roster. There are also three freshmen, four sophomores and four juniors. The team will be one of the tallest in Division III with six players measuring six-feet or more.
Last season Liz Ellis was chosen the Defensive Player of the Year in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) and was named to the All-MIAA second team. She also led the MIAA in three-point shooting accuracy at .475 in conference games and .458 over the entire season. Ellis enters the season as Hope's alltime leader in three-point shooting accuracy (.431). Long distance shooting will become a greater challenge in college women's basketball this upcoming season as the three-point line has been moved back to 20 feet, 9 inches, the same as in men's college basketball. It previously had been 19 feet, 9 inches.
Other returning letterwinners include junior Ashley Bauman of Manistee (Manistee Catholic HS), junior Courtney Kust of Cincinnati, Ohio (Cincinnati Hills Christian HS), and sophomore Katie Overway of Holland (West Ottawa HS).
Moving up from the junior varsity program are sophomores Anna Kaufmann of Davenport, Iowa (Davenport Central HS), Megan Kelley of Rockford (Rockford HS), and Kristen Slotman of Cedar Grove, Wisc.
New to collegiate basketball will be freshmen Hannah Doell of Center Valley, Pa. (Southern Leigh HS), Rebekah Llorens of Grayslake, Ill. (Grayslake Central HS), and Liz Siepker of Troy (Troy HS). Each of the three freshmen stand 6-1.
The goal of the Flying Dutch will be to compete for a school-record fifth straight MIAA championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament. An added incentive is the fact that Hope College wil be hosting the NCAA Division III Final Four at DeVos Fieldhouse on March 16-17.