Alan Hoskins, Supervisor of Public Information
Friday, October 26, 2012
Kansas City Kansas Community College women’s basketball will have a new look this coming season and it won’t just be on the court.
For the first time in college history, the Lady Blue Devils will be contending for two championships. Moving to Division II, the Blue Devils will contend with Johnson County, Highland, Hesston, Fort Scott and Brown Mackie for a berth in the Division II national tournament.
That’s in addition to the 10-team Eastern Division of the Jayhawk Conference of which KCKCC has been a member for more than three decades.
“Although those are the only games that count towards the playoffs, it won’t make any difference in how we approach our games,” says Valerie Stambersky, who is in her 14th season as head coach. “We still have something to prove to the Jayhawk schools and that’s going to be our focus. We can still compete with the Division I schools.”
Stambersky will enter the 2012-13 campaign with six returnees from last year’s 13-18 team, two transfers and six promising freshmen.
The returnees are led by a trio of guards, 5-7 Brittany Clement of Blue Springs, 5-8 Alexandria Blaurock of Sumner Academy and 5-7 Mariah Marusak of SM South. All three started in at least 21 games last season.
Averaging 9.9 points, Clement was second in scoring and is the leader in field goal, free throw shooting and 3-point shooting percentages among the returnees; Blaurock averaged 6.2 points and is the leading rebounder (4.5) among returnees; and Marusak averaged 3.4 points and 2.6 rebounds.
Returnees Latosha Ware (6-0) of SM North and Jherica Montgomery (6-1) of Wichita Southeast will battle it out for the starting post position after averaging two points and 2.5 rebounds a game last year while 5-7 Nage Umutlu of Alanya, Turkey, is very much in the picture for a starting guard position after averaging 2.6 points in 28 games.
Two former hometown products will provide considerable depth, 5-7 Paris Johnson of Schlagle, who transferred from Coffeyville at the semester last season; and 5-0 Jamisha Crawford, a fiery defender from Washington who transferred from Fort Scott.
The battle for starting spots has further been widened by the addition of the six freshmen, three guards and three forwards. The guards are 5-8 Samantha Hurst of Harrisonville, 5-6 Logan Vann of Wichita Campus and 5-8 Briana Daniels of Colorado Springs; the forwards are 5-11 Kayla Sodders of Bishop Ward, 5-11 Bailey West of Omaha and 6-0 Mutiyat Hameed of Lawrence. Vann, however, is out with a concussion while Sodders is coming off a stress fracture of her foot. Hopefully, both will be ready by mid-November.
“Right now, the battle for starting positions is wide open,” says Stambersky. “We’ll start the season with four guards and because of their versatility, most are interchangeable.” Just what kind of defense Stambersky wants to play also will make a difference. “It’s early but I really like the defensive intensity of this group. We have one group that’s better at pressing; another that’s better on the half court.”
The battle for the starting point guard position shapes up between Umutlu, who played the off guard last season; Crawford and Hurst, while any combination of Clement, Blaurock, Marusak,and Johnson could fill the other three guard spots. “Both Montgomery and Ware have improved significantly at the post,” says Stambersky. “Ware is best with her back to the basket; Montgomery can spot up and shoot and will play more at the power forward as the season progresses.”
The Blue Devils will open the season with five straight home dates starting with Southeast Nebraska Tuesday, Nov. 6 the four-team Keith Lindsay Classic Nov. 9-10; and the district opener against Hesston Nov. 15.
“Keeping everyone healthy is always a concern,” said Stambersky, who is assisted by Alicia Roth for a ninth straight season. “But this is a team I really like. We have a lot of depth and versatility, players who are good 3-point shooters and some who are good off the dribble. So they complement each other. It’s also high energy team, one that wants to compete and have fun, very enjoyable to coach. So I’m very excited.”