A Look at the Opponents
The Eagles are coming off a 5-23 campaign in 2012-13 but are 3-2 already this season. AIB is led by 5-6 senior guard Megan Howard, who is averaging better than 15 points per game and led the team in scoring a year ago. Simpson won last year's matchup 82-54 in Indianola.
The Blugolds went 11-15 and 6-10 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference a year ago and are 0-2 on the young season. Head coach Tonja Englund's squad returns two starters, led by Courtney Lewis. A 5-10 junior forward, Lewis averaged 10.5 points and 4.2 rebounds last year. Simpson beat the Blugolds 70-52 last season in Eau Claire.
Simpson is ranked 16th in the USA Today/WBCA Preseason Coaches Poll and is the first team outside the top 25 in the D3hoops.com Poll. The Storm were picked first in the IIAC Preseason Coaches Poll by receiving 4 of 7 first place votes and a total of 53 out of a maximum 56 points.
Twenty-seventh-year head coach Brian Niemuth returns one starter and 8 of 13 letterwinners from last year's team that tied a school record with 27 wins, going 27-3 and advancing to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament. Simpson won the Iowa Conference with a 13-1 mark, tying a conference record by winning the title for the sixth consecutive season.
The lone returning starter for Simpson is 5-11 sophomore post, Brooke Panzer (Lincoln, Neb./Southeast HS). Panzer started all 30 games as a freshman, averaging 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The team's leading returning scorer and rebounder, Panzer will likely draw more attention in the post with the graduation of First Team All-American and WBCA Player of the Year finalist, Kate Nielsen.
Panzer headlines a deep, talented group of sophomores that were integral to Simpson's run a year ago. Though Panzer was the only starter, four others averaged 13 minutes or more. Shooting guards Whitney Van Wyk (Altoona, Iowa/Southeast Polk HS) and Morgan Mauro (Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Dowling Catholic HS), point guard Maddie Bosworth (West Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic HS) and post Annie Gullickson (Ossian, Iowa/South Winneshiek) were all regulars in the rotation.
Van Wyk and Mauro will likely slide into the starting wing spots and are the top returning 3-point shooters. Bosworth proved more than capable of handling the point guard duties in relief of second team all-conference performer Kelsie Reeves last year, finishing the season with 35 assists and 26 steals. Standing 6-2, Gullickson is a proven shot-blocker with 25 in 2012-13.
The lone senior on the team is forward Morgan Terpstra (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Linn Marr HS). A 3-year letterwinner, Terpstra averaged 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13 minutes per game last year. She does have one career start under her belt, an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double in a win over UW-River Falls last December.