CHS grad Abbie Reeves lone returning starter for UW-Whitewater 2014-15 basketball team

Photo by Miguel Ugalde via stock.xchng

Photo by Miguel Ugalde via stock.xchng

Abbie Reeves, a graduate of Central High School in Paddock Lake and a finance/general management major at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, is set to begin the 2014-15 season as a member of the Warhawks’ women’s basketball team.

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater women’s basketball team will have a new look in 2014-15. With just one returning starter from last season, the roster may have changed dramatically but the Warhawk drive to succeed and competitive nature still remains.

Reeves (Salem/Westosha Central), a junior shooting guard, is the lone returning starter from a year ago. Reeves averaged 8.7 points in over 24 minutes a game last season.

“Abbie has been very vocal and helped our freshmen a lot communicating with them on the court,” Carollo said. “Emily Jensen (Wauwatosa/Wauwatosa East) has also emerged as a leader for us. She’s really stepped up so far this year.”

In 2013-14, UW-Whitewater advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season finishing third after recording a perfect 16-0 league record to win the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title.

“We always have high expectations going into each season, like winning conference,” UW-Whitewater coach Keri Carollo said, “but when it comes down to it, our focus is on the first game.”

UW-Whitewater lost All-American point guard and career steals leader Kaitlyn Thill (Belgium/Ozaukee), all-time leading scorer Mary Merg (Greendale/Greendale), bigs Amy Mandrell(Forsyth, IL/Maroa-Forsyth) and Kristen Ruchti (Brodhead/Brodhead) in the middle and guard Katie Burton (Crystal Lake, IL/Crystal Lake South) to graduation.

Instead of trying to replace these talented athletes, Carollo insists she’d rather the athletes on this year’s team grow and excel in their own way.

“You’re never going to replace great players,” Carollo said. “Instead, we want each player to create their own identity and excel in their own style. As coaches, we are tailoring our offense and defense to fit the talents of the group we have.”

This season’s roster features 13 new names, including 10 freshmen and three transfers.

“Every team will go through this type of turnover at some point in time, but we’re really excited about our level of talent this year,” Carollo said. “Our returners have really stepped up and are carrying a lot of the load in teaching our new players and being great leaders. The leaders have emerged on their own as we’ve started the season.”

Point guard Reilly Stewart (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North) and two-guard Andrea Olsen (East Troy/East Troy), both sophomores, also return to the court after averaging more than ten minutes per game last season and combining for nearly 10 points a game and dishing out over 70 assists.

Lisa Palmer (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett), a starter at the forward spot as a freshman on the 2012-13 national runner-up squad, will return for the Warhawks after being sidelined all of last season due to injury. Palmer’s tireless work ethic, intense style of play and vocal leadership are just some of the reasons her return is highly anticipated.

“We’re excited to have Lisa back,” Carollo said. “She looks really good, is moving well and has made an impact right away. Lisa is a very vocal leader and she leads by her work ethic and how hard she plays.”

In the middle, Jensen, a 6-1 junior center, has continued to improve and will look to make an impact down low this season.

Warhawk fans will see a mixture of new and old styles of play to accompany the new faces on the team. UW-Whitewater will be more balanced than in the past but will still look to pressure opposing offenses with relentless defense.

The fast-paced, high-action offense common a year ago will be intermixed with offensive sets tailored to the strengths of the Warhawks on the floor. UW-Whitewater will still look to run and push the ball with a deeper line-up.

“We have great talent and good size, we’re just young,” Carollo said. “We still want to be fast, but we are more balanced and have more depth than we have had in previous years.”

An extremely tough non-conference schedule features teams that made appearances in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament. The season opener is set for this Saturday, Nov. 15, against the University of Chicago in Kachel Gymnasium at 2 p.m.

With just two games under their belt, the Warhawks will head to Milwaukee to compete in the Paul F. Knueppel Classic hosted by Wisconsin Lutheran. UW-Whitewater is scheduled to face George Fox University. The Bruins went 22-5 a year ago, advanced to the NCAA III tournament where they lost to eventual runner-up Whitman. In the second game of the tournament, UW-Whitewater will meet DePauw University. The Warhawks handed DePauw one of its two losses last season in the NCAA quarterfinals on the road to advance to the Final Four.

The tough non-conference schedule will help prepare the Warhawks for WIAC play.

“We may face some challenges and some adversity this year being so young but this group has a lot of fight,” Carollo said.

UW-Whitewater will open conference play against UW-Oshkosh, ranked fifth by D3hoops.com, Dec. 3.

Still, the focus remains on the season opener against Chicago.

“Chicago is always fast and they shoot well,” Carollo said. “[Coach Sain Knoche] always does a great job with their team. They’ll be a challenge to start the year.”

As the Warhawks have continued to prepare for the start of the season, the coaching staff has already seen improvement. Trailing by 12 points in a scrimmage, the young Warhawks showed resilience and came back with a very good second half.

With the opening game just days away, Carollo says the team will be ready for the challenge.

“I think our returners feel like it’s their time,” Carollo said. “We’ve had one of the toughest preseasons both physically and mentally to help them prepare. “We have a lot of strong, competitive personalities that hate to lose. Our team still has that ‘We Are Whitewater’ attitude. We want to win, because that’s what we do here.”

For more than 140 years, UW-Whitewater has provided students with the education and training to begin their careers with a solid foundation behind them. The UW-Whitewater is committed to the development of the individual, the growth of personal and professional integrity and respect for diversity and global perspectives. These are met by providing academic and co-curricular programs that emphasize the pursuit of knowledge and understanding and a commitment to service within a safe and secure environment.

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