Beloit Beloit is nothing if not young this season. The Bucs’ roster features one senior and six freshmen and is highlighted by sophomore guard/forward Christine Brown, who averaged almost a double-double last season (10.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg). Brown teamed up with junior forward Katie McCool to lead the Beloit volleyball team to the 2006 MWC title and the two look to transfer that success to the court. Carroll Like their counterparts on the men’s team, the Lady Pioneers feature one of the best one-two punches in the league with All-American junior guard Crystal Hoewisch and 6-1 junior center Kim Wickert leading the way for Carroll to try to claim a second straight MWC crown. Look for last year’s NCAA tournament upset of Calvin to provide momentum, as Carroll should come out very strong. Ripon There will be considerably less inside pressure from the Red Hawks this season after graduating All-American center and MWC Player of the Year Karalyn Dehn, though they return their top four scorers behind her. The remaining Red Hawks are led by a trio of senior guards in second team All-MWC Morgan Roberts, JoEllen Buerger and Sara Gustafson, and could surprise teams not taking Dehn-less Ripon seriously. St. Norbert The hole Karalyn Dehn left in the Ripon paint may be hard to fill, but the hole she left as the MWC’s best center should without question be filled by St. Norbert’s Bianca White. White is a senior who has the potential to average a double-double. The Green Knights were the top defensive team in the conference last season and will challenge Carroll again for the conference crown. Grinnell The Lady Pioneers don’t run the distinctive system that the Grinnell men do, but they are just as proficient from behind the arc. They were fourth in the country last season in three pointers made per game and guard Hannah Wolf was second in the country in treys per game with 4.2. Wolf, a junior, was the conference’s second-leading scorer last season, and is the lone weapon on a team that will be hard-pressed to match last season’s meager win total.
Illinois College IC is a bit of a mystery this year, as they were very inconsistent last year. At times they were brilliant, featuring a win over the nation’s No. 1 team, and at times they were terrible, including a three-game stretch in which they lost by a combined 52 points. Like Ripon, the Lady Blues are led by a trio of senior guards in Megen Richards, Ashley Law and Nikki Bloemer. Knox Knox features the league’s youngest team in 2006, with 10 freshmen on the roster and only four returners from last year’s squad. Two of those returners averaged double digits last season for the Praire Fire, and junior guard Jenna Finley and junior forward Andie Allison will lead a Knox team with nowhere to go but up: Knox won only one MWC game last season.
Lake Forest The usually strong Foresters missed the MWC postseason for the first time in eight seasons last year and are in prime position to get back to it this year with the return of a trio of starters. Seniors Andrea Durante and Lizzy Bauer and junior Nicole Baich led a team that also returns a host of regular bench players, and Lake Forest could take the crown if they can overcome the strength of Carroll and St. Norbert. Monmouth If Bianca White falters as the league’s best center this year, Monmouth junior Ashley Yeast will be right there to take that title from her. Yeast averaged a double-double season last year (11.2 ppg, 12.0 rpg) and finished fifth in the NCAA in rebounding. Melissa Gorski – a freshman – led the team in scoring last season and could be a spark plug for the league’s most intriguing team.