The only constant thing in life is change. And there sure is a lot of change in Rogers Park this season for the Women’s basketball program. Loyola is coming off one of their most successful seasons in recent history. They finished last season 18-12. And that’s when the change began. Allison Guth was hired as the head coach, new players like the Nolan twins and 3 new freshmen joined the team, and Loyola began its journey in the Atlantic 10.
That’s all fine, but how will the product change on the court? Coach Guth mentioned on Tuesday at A10 Media Day that Emma and Sophia Nolan will be big keys to the change on the court. They both hail from St. John’s most recently before they transferred to Loyola. And they are both originally from Valparaiso, Indiana. Coach Guth cracked a smile when she said, they were both excited to play in front of their family this season. As for the two of them on the court, expect to see two versatile players that use their athleticism to defend multiple positions. Coach Guth added, “Emma will be a physical presence for us on both ends of the court. She’s an interior player who can stretch the floor and really shoot it.’ One of the themes of the day for Guth was to emphasize the pace they plan to play this year. When talking about both Emma and Sophia, Guth talked about how they will both help the team pick up the pace and play up tempo. When talking about Sophia, Coach Guth said, “She’s a joy to coach. She has excellent footwork on the interior and has become more versatile around the rim.”
The incoming freshmen seem to be adding to the trend of an up tempo offense as well. Mallory Ramage can score at any level. Whitney Dunn is a dynamic guard that can get to the bucket. And Kira Chivers is a small but mighty and shifty guard that will wreak havoc on the defensive end. Looking back on these three women’s high school careers, I found some pretty impressive accomplishments. Mallory finished as her school’s all time leading scorer. She scored 2,486 points for Mattoon High School in central Illinois. Her senior year she averaged 23.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. She adds some height from the guard position as well standing at 5’10”. Her former coaches have praised her rebounding abilities as well as her effort on loose balls and rebounds. Whitney Dunn comes from Kenwood Academy in Chicago. She was a two-time All State Second Team player in her last two years in High School. During her senior year of high school, Dunn averaged 18 points and 4 rebounds per game. Her high school coach lauded Dunn’s abilities on both sides of the court. He said that Dunn’s job in high school was to stop the other team’s best perimeter player and to score the basketball. Dunn is an impact player and looks to make an impact right away at Loyola. Kira Chivers is a quick twitch guard, who steps up to make tough plays on the court. She comes from Marist in the Chicago suburbs. Chivers led her team to a successful season. Her coach appreciated Chivers ability to make the right play at the right time.
All five new additions this season lend itself to the offensive changes Coach Guth described at A10 Media Day on Tuesday October 18th. She discussed the changes as a “new system” and that their “conditioning has been stressed”. It should be quite the show when these women take the court for their exhibition game on October 30th, as well as their home opener against Virginia on November 16th. Both Sam Galanopoulos and Julia Hoefling, both entering their 4th year on the team, confirmed Guth’s comments from earlier. Sam said, “Our pace has changed, but our defense has stayed the same.” That defense held opponents last season to only 55.7 points per game. If the Ramblers can play their same hard nosed defense from last year, while increasing their scoring output, this team could shock some people in the Atlantic 10.