Originally Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013, 10:47 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 29, 2013, 12:28 am

Queen Bees set up for special season?

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By Tom Johnston, tjohnston@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck/gkrambeck@qconline.com
St. Ambrose University women's basketball standouts, front, from left, Ashley Dexter (North Scott HS), and Lauren Cash (Pekin) and back, from left, Katie Jensen (Lena- Winslow HS) and Devan Griffin (Geneseo HS) are expected to be key players for this season's Queen Bees basketball team.

DAVENPORT — One quick snippet of conversation from Monday's media day festivities says a lot about the season the St. Ambrose University women's basketball team is looking forward to having.

SAU coach Krista Van Hauen: "If we stay healthy this year, it's going to be a fun year."

Intrepid reporter: "How much fun?"

Van Hauen: "Really fun."

A huge smile and knowing chuckle from the fourth-year coach followed.

Yes, it could be one of those seasons for the Queen Bees. It seems as if all the pieces are there for them to not only have a great Midwest Collegiate Conference season but a solid post-season run as well.

The potential isn't even enough to stop the players from thinking ahead a bit at what can get done.

"'Can' is a big word in everyone's vocabulary right now," said senior guard Ashley Dexter, who is looking forward to rejoining her teammates after the soccer season ends. "I think that 'can' will just need to be proven in the first couple of weeks."

"I believe we can accomplish the MCC championship, for sure, and a trip to nationals," said shooting threat Lauren Cash. "I believe we can make a really good run there."

Keeping the focus on the details and not getting caught up in the what-ifs could be one of the most critical aspects of the Queen Bees season. With expectations so high on long-range goals, they can't afford to lose sight of the process.

"That is in the back of my mind," Van Hauen said of keeping her players in the present each day. "We've scrimmaged four teams this preseason and the closest game has been 17 points. It scares me as a coach that we are going to look ahead too much. We keep preaching every single day that we have to get better at the little details. They realize that, though."

Van Hauen said rotations are nowhere close to being figured out and may not get figured out. She says there is plenty of versatility – and talent up and down the 20-player roster – that starters and rotations could be fluid all season.

A couple of players who will be seeing plenty of time, though, are guards Cash and Dexter. Cash (5-7, Sr., Pekin HS) led SAU's offense last season with 481 points (15.5 ppg average), and Dexter (5-4, Sr, North Scott HS) sparked the tempo of a team that likes to go all out most of the time.

Other backcourt players to factor in the mix are returners Nora Masterson (5-3, Sr., La Grange Park, Ill.), Sydney Greiner (5-9, Soph, Washington, Iowa) and Shelby Steger (5-6, Jr., Kewanee Wethersfield HS). Freshman Brette Logic (5-6, Racine, Wis.) also is vying for playing time.

The well-stocked front-court includes returners Katie Jensen (5-11, Jr., Lena-Winslow HS, who averaged 11.2 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds per game last season), Rachel Hinebaugh (5-10, Soph, Ottumwa, Iowa), Lauren Brummel (6-1, Soph., Somonauk, Ill.) and Devan Griffin (6-foot, Soph, Geneseo HS).

Adding to the front-court strength is junior transfer Annaka Olson (6-3, Jr., Janesville, Minn., via Ellsworth CC).

"She's a 6-foot-3 post who fulfills a need," Van Hauen said of Olson. "We have five strong posts. It's pretty obvious that when we substitute, we don't fall off very quickly. That's a benefit to us; how do you defend that? A lot of conference schools have one or two good posts."

The way things are shaping up for the Queen Bees this season, other conference schools may not have enough of anything to handle Van Hauen's club.

And that could it make it real fun this winter for the Queen Bees.