Beaver Falls, PA – There is very much new when it comes to the Geneva College women’s basketball program. The Golden Tornadoes will be competing in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference for the first time as an official member in 2011-12 after having to wait four years through their NCAA Division III provisional period. Leading Geneva into its newest challenge will be a new face on the bench but not a new face to the Geneva program. Lori Wynn takes over the reins of a Geneva program that has suffered three consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 1991. Wynn arrives on College Hill having spent the last eight years coaching at Malone University.
The task that lies ahead for Wynn will not be an easy one as Geneva has lost several key members of its line-up from a year ago. Only Beth DeLuca returns to the fold as one of Geneva’s top five scorers from a year ago. Samantha Fisher, who will join the team in December, and Kristland McCracken, who returns following her volleyball season, each played key roles last year and will most likely see even more significant minutes upon their return. Senior Rachel Rouan and junior Chelsea D’Urso will also be among those players that Coach Wynn will be looking to increase production from years past. Outside of the five returning players, the Golden Tornadoes will look to a handful of newcomers to make immediate contributions. “We have faced some adversity within our program,” says Wynn. “We are not about making excuses for who is here and who isn’t. Our goal is to improve individually and as a team everyday and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Golden Tornadoes closed out the 2010-11 season by dropping ten of its final 12 games. In fact, Geneva won just three times after the New Year. Certainly one of the goals for Geneva and its new head coach is to maintain some momentum throughout the entire season. “The college basketball season is a grind,” says Wynn. “We have to find a way to maintain our hard work and commitment for four months if we hope to succeed in this conference. This will not be an easy challenge but I have faith in the ladies within this program that they will work hard on and off the court.”
Geneva finished the season with a 9-16 overall record a year ago, but it won just four times against PAC competition. With all of those conference games counting this season, it will most definitely put more emphasis on some of the rivalries that Geneva College has built throughout the years. “It is exciting for me to come back to Geneva after playing here to start my career,” says Wynn. “Geneva has built some great rivalries in all of our programs with several of these PAC schools. My hope is that our ladies will get a better understanding of what it means to play a difficult conference schedule against teams that want to get after it every night. We have to be able to match that intensity.”
DeLuca will be Geneva’s only returning starter from last year. She poses a serious long range threat as one of the best shooter’s in the conference. Last year, she knocked down 39 three-point field goals to lead the Golden Tornadoes while posting 10.4 points per game. Fisher should provide some stability in the post along with Rouan. The two combined for seven points and seven rebounds per game last year but each will have to make a bigger offensive contribution. “We are expecting several of our players to lift their games to another level,” says Wynn. “Our post position will be a key to our success this year. We have very little college experience down there and someone will have to step up in a big way.”
On the perimeter, Geneva will look to D’Urso to compliment DeLuca’s offensive production. Freshman Chelsea Kauffman will also be a fresh face that may bring the Golden Tornadoes a spark in her first year of action. “We will be looking for some of our newcomers to give us immediate production,” says Wynn. “It’s always a little scary to rely on young players but at some point we have to find out exactly what we have and who will be able to produce on both ends of the floor.”
Losing senior leadership with the likes of Christine Carugati and Valerie Hamilton to graduation, Geneva will seek leadership from other sources. This year’s senior tandem of DeLuca and Rouan will hopefully be able to provide some of what was lost. “Leadership and team unity is a key component to any successful program,” says Wynn. “I certainly don’t take those intangibles lightly and will be looking for all of our players to provide those pieces of the puzzle throughout the season. It doesn’t really matter to me from what source we get leadership, just as long as we get it.”
Wynn was an impact freshman herself when she arrived on Geneva’s campus in 1988. The Golden Tornadoes did not enjoy much success the one year she spent on College Hill but that experience certainly taught Geneva’s new boss a thing or two about perseverance. “There are many variables that make a team successful,” says Wynn. “Winning basketball games is an important ingredient but I measure success in many different ways and I feel as though we can begin to build this program in the right direction. We want to win games as much as any team in the conference and we will work extremely hard to reach those goals and to reach them by doing things the right way on and off the court.”
Geneva College’s women’s basketball program has suffered through three straight losing seasons. As a new chapter is about to be written, the Golden Tornadoes and their new head coach are ready to begin putting the building blocks together to get the train back on the tracks with the 2011-12 season serving as the first brick.
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College’s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).