Last year: 27-2, Class A state champion
Head coach: Katie Collignon, 75-10 in fourth year at Marquette
Assistants: Caleb Carnes, Renee' Turpa
Key losses: Sophia Nolan (St. John's), Emma Nolan (St. John's), Claire Salyer (Trine), Emmery Joseph (Baker), Morgan Crook.
*Mary Kate Bobillo`5-6`Jr.`G
(*— projected starter)
Player to watch: McConnell. The Blazers' sole senior will have every opportunity to be the team's star. A spark off the bench last season, she moves into the starting lineup and will be the centerpiece of the offense while continuing to do the dirty work. "I'm excited to give her the ball a lot and see her do a lot of things," Collignon said. "She was underrated the past couple years because she was never the No. 1 scorer. I think she's ready to step up and make a big impact."
Newcomers to watch: Obviously, there are many. Grott, Blakely, Galindo, Bobillo.
Grott will provide a good complement to McConnell in the post, Galindo moves up from JV, Blakely gives the Blazers some quickness at the guard spot and Bobillo should add some perimeter shooting punch. "Izabel has a good skill set. She has come around really nicely. She brings a lot of competitiveness, toughness," Collignon said. "Ana's speed is going to be really tough to guard. She will help our inside-out game a lot. Her defense will be a big impact as well."
Outlook: With the graduation of a starting five that won two Class A state titles, it's a new generation at Marquette. While the bar won't be nearly as high for the Blazers, Collignon believes the tradition of success and the experience the returning players gained going against such an elite group in practice will serve them well in the transition. "The last three years were just different," Collignon said. "I'm excited for these kids to step into the spotlight and play their basketball. Most of the girls have been in the program two, three years. They should know what I'm looking for. I know they have it in them. If they can bring it out, I know we'll be better than expected."
Marquette may have to hang its hat on its defense while the offense comes together. "I think we have some scorers. We've got some good guards, some good shooters," Collignon said. "I think the defense will hopefully be a strong point. That's just the way I coach. Hopefully through November we can get our full strategy in place. We don't have great depth, but I still want to run. That's the kind of basketball I like. Make every shot tough, don't let teams drive, get in the paint."
Collignon likes what she has seen in the pre-season and hopes the progression will continue. "I'm excited from what I've seen so far," she said. "I think the girls are very excited for season to start. It's not as rebuilding as I thought it would be. Before the ball's tipped, it always looks good, but we have some pieces who can play."
— Jim Peters