By Matt Dahlberg
Olivet’s Lady Tigers have set tall expectations for the upcoming season.
Coach Doug Porter and the team want to earn more conference tournament titles, but winning the NAIA National Championship is their highest goal, a goal which Porter sees more attainable than ever before.
“This is the most talented team Olivet’s ever had,” Porter said. “They have a chance to be a team people will be talking about 20 years from now, and they’re really fun to watch.”
The season ended last year in the playoffs with a loss to Union University (Tenn.), who went on to win the National Championship.
Porter said this year the team will be able to rely on experience, as 13 players are returning from last year. Key players include redshirt junior Danielle Tolbert and senior Danielle Pipal. These point guards were CCAC All-Conference selections last year. Pipal was also named an NAIA All-American Honorable Mention.
The NAIA preseason 12-ranked Tigers’ game plan remains mostly the same on both ends of the court. “Tigerball,” as Porter calls it, includes high pressure on defense and shooting at the first opportunity on offense.
The women’s aggressiveness earned them 735 turnovers and they finished with over 100 points in 23 games of the season, setting new all-time NAIA records. They ended the year with a record of 27-7.
But this year the team’s offense will look slightly different.
“Last year we [had more of a] motion offense most of the time,” senior forward Jamie Buckman said. “And this year it’s more of a clear out and lots and lots of screening.”
Though the team will be on the road for periods of time, six games in November will be played at home. In December, the ONU Holiday Inn Express Classic is held on campus in McHie Arena. Other trips include: Shawnee State (Ohio) and Warner University in Florida right after Christmas.