It didn’t take Gabbie Bohl long to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with.
The Minot Ryan graduate, after sitting out her first collegiate season due to injury, stepped into the starting lineup last season for the University of Mary and made an immediate impact. Bohl started all 31 games, averaged 15.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, and was named the Northern Sun freshman of the year.
After helping the Marauders to 15 wins, a 10-12 NSIC record and a fourth-place finish in the North, the Marauders post was named to the all-NSIC second team.
Fellow freshman Lauren Rotunda – a Fargo Shanley grad who averaged 9.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game while starting all 31 games – and Cassie Askvig – a Minot High product who played in all 31 games while averaging 8.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists – also played key roles in helping the Marauders earn a postseason tournament home game.
All good reasons for optimism as the Marauders get set to tip off another season while expecting to field a young but talented lineup.
“Our big three is as good as any in the conference,” Marauders coach Rick Neumann said.
The Marauders open the season this weekend, with two games in Kansas City and one in Omaha.
U-Mary did pick up an exhibition win over Jamestown, a perennially strong NAIA program, on the road, despite playing without Askvig, who sat out after spraining an ankle in practice the week before.
“It’s always tough playing that first game of the year,” Neumann said. “Jamestown has a good program, they have a lot of good players and they stick around working out together all summer.
“To go on the road, to hold Askvig out … to start a true freshman point guard and play well and get a win on the road was a pleasant outcome.”
The Marauders will have another young player in the backcourt. Senior Dani Williams will move to shooting guard as true freshman Macy Williams, a Sussex, Wis., native, steps in at point guard.
“Macy is a true freshman, but she’s a true point guard,” Neumann said. “We haven’t had a pure PG in a few years.”
The Marauders open up on Friday in Kansas City against Central Missouri, a team that is the preseason favorite in the strong MIAA and is ranked No. 13 in one preseason poll.
On Saturday, they take on Washburn (Kan.) in Kansas City and face College of Saint Mary (Neb.) on Sunday in Omaha.
“It’s good to play tough opponents early and see where we’re at,” Neumann said.
One area the Marauders need to improve in is perimeter shooting.
“We’re cautiously optimistic. We have three outstanding players in our sophomore class (Bohl, Rotunda, Askvig) and we’re expecting them to grow their games a bit and be even better than last year,” Neumann said. “The biggest area of concern is going to be how we shoot the 3.”
Getting consistent shooting from the wing will be a big key.
The Marauders hope the addition of Marist transfer Jordyn Jossart will boost the perimeter attack. The redshirt sophomore from Century High School played in 18 games for the NCAA Division I Red Foxes last season.
“We were the worst shooting team from deep in the conference last year and we gave up the most 3s in the conference, which led to a bit of an up and down year,” Neumann said. “We played well down the stretch.
“We feel good about where we’re at, but it’s tempered the enthusiasm a little bit by not knowing how well were going to shoot the 3s.”
Junior Isabel Schmelzer gives the Marauders some depth in the post, and the team has several options on the wings, including sophomore Christal Hearn, senior Sawyer Kluge, and redshirt freshmen Shea Heidlebaugh and Kaylee Hinson.
The opening weekend will give the Marauders a chance to experiment.
“We’re trying to win every game, but we need to try some different combinations and look at things,” Neumann said.
The Marauders’ home opener is set for Nov. 18 at the McDowell Activity Center against Dickinson State. The NSIC opener is Nov. 25 at Minot State.