MILWAUKEE – The basketball season is nearly here. Although the Mount Mary University basketball team has been preparing for weeks now, the 2018-19 season officially begins Fri. Nov. 9 at 7:00 pm in the Bloechl Center.
Last season, the Blue Angels finished 8-13 tying the school's all-time single season record for wins since joining the NCAA. The team saw an uptick in wins towards the latter part of the season as MMU won six of their final ten games.
Three Blue Angels finished the 2017-18 season on the Association of Division III Independents All-Association Team. Rae Grubbs (Jr./Covington, Ind.) and Erica Williams (So./Bloomington, Ill.) finished on the first team and MMU Graduate Becky Onan ('18) was a member of the second team.
After four seasons for the Blue Angels, Onan finished her collegiate career as MMU's leader in points, assists, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, steals, blocks and minutes played.
Grubbs' developing deep-shot broke out last season. While the young guard has always possessed a consistent shot, her confidence behind the three-point line in 2017-18 shinned through with a flurry of high scoring games. Grubbs set MMU's single-game record for three-pointers made with seven against Grace Christian and tied the school's single-season record for made 3-pointers with 37.
Williams settled into collegiate basketball quickly in her freshman season. After an early 30-point, 15-rebound game last season, Williams continued to top the AD3I in points, field goal percentage and rebounds throughout the 2017-18 campaign. At the end of the season, Williams finished with eight double-doubles on the year.
Along with the Williams and Grubbs, MMU returns Lucy Pavelko (Jr./Muskego, Wis.), Brooke Uebersetzig (Jr./Greenwood, Ind.), Kaylie Cook (So./Fairborn, Ohio), Kirsten George (So./Fairborn, Ohio), Tamara Griffin (So./Champaign, Ill.) and Trinity Jackson-Branch (So./Madison, Wis.).
Uebersetzig continued to develop as a point guard last season as she averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Pavelko was the dependable option for the Blue Angels starting in all 21 games and averaging 33.5 minutes per contest.
New Blue Angels
After a long offseason, the Blue Angels were able to bring in five new faces to the roster for 2018-19. Four of the five Blue Angels joining the squad this season are listed as guards as the team may look to join the game's nationwide trend of rosters deep with speed, shooting and versatility; or more guards.
Each player will bring her own unique skill set in 2018-19 to the Blue Angels roster. Although similar in position, the newcomers all come from different parts of the country without one redeeming state.
A sophomore transfer, Brianna Valdez (So./Thornton, Colo.) brings the most experience to the court for the new class. Valdez one season at Little Priest Tribal College where she started 10 games for the Warriors and averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
Cierra Cadena (Fr.) comes to the Blue Angels from San Antonio, Texas to help at the guard position. Fellow newcomer Melissa Golo (Fr./Boise, Idaho) also looks to add depth at the guard position for MMU. Although the guards were both recruited for basketball, many MMU fans already saw the two showcase their natural speed and agility on the soccer pitch for a few matches this season.
Ty'Nika Bentley (Fr.) and Ka'Riah Simmons (Fr.) round out the new class, both from playing their prep basketball east of Lake Michigan. Bentley is a 5-5 guard from Columbus, Ohio where she played at Briggs High School.
Simmons comes to the Blue Angels from Genesee, Mich. Along with newcomer Valdez, Simmons brings a bit of height to this year's class. The first year forward from Michigan stands at 5-8.
The Blue Angels have 22 games scheduled for the 2018-19 season. Among the 22 teams, MMU will have the chance to rekindle many longstanding series with familiar opponents and add a few new programs to the mix as well.
To begin the season, the Blue Angels host Rockford University on Fri. Nov. 9. Last season the Regents finished 5-20 overall and 3-17 in conference play: the Regents are members of the Northern Collegiate Athletic Conference. RU holds a 2-0 lead in the brief all-time series against MMU with their most recent victory dating back to November of 2016.
Then the Blue Angels will quickly head to Indiana for a game against Franklin College just two days after hosting Rockford. The Grizzlies finished their 2017-18 season at 7-17 and 6-12 against the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
It will be the first time since the Blue Angels and Franklin have met on the hardwood since MMU's inaugural NCAA season back in 2008 when FC won 92-65. A decade later, the Grizzlies team stats for last season are similar to the Blue Angels, with FC averaging 56.3 points per game while shooting 35.9 from the field. On paper, the difference on the court could mean the play of the teams' respective 2018 recruiting classes.
Fast forwarding through the season, the Blue Angels will face seven NCAA institutions among the first eight opponents of 2018-19. Opponents like rival Alverno College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Northland and more all before the semester break.
For the 2019 portion of the schedule, the Blue Angels have 13 contested scheduled. With a relatively even split, the Blue Angels will host seven of those final 13 games at the Bloechl Center. Last season, the Blue Angels were able to grab five of their eight wins on their home court.
Streaming and live stats will return for all home games this season. Play-by-play and color commentary will again be provide for the games that will simulcast on BoxCast and Facebook Live. 105.7 FM The Fan Packers reporter and producer of the Chuck & Winkler show, Cody Grant and WTMJ Brewers Extra Innings host Matt Pauley return this season as the voices of MMU Basketball.
For more info on the Blue Angels, head to MtMaryAthletics.com.