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BG ready to defend title

The journey to repeat as MAC Champions begins tonight in Anderson Arena at 7 p.m.

As opening opponents go a team could do a lot worse than IPFW, which has a mixture of tall athletic bigs and lightning fast guards on the wings.

“They can beat you in a variety of ways,” said BG coach Curt Miller, of his first opponent of the season.

While the players are excited to begin the season they know the challenge that IPFW presents for them.

“They are a very quick team,” said forward Ali Mann. “We have to play hard. We have to have energy.”

Although they lost two starters to graduation on a team that went just 5-23 the team features two explosive scorers – Johnna Lewis-Carlise and Ashley Johnson.

Lewis-Carlise averaged 9.6 points last season, but will have more of the scoring load placed on her lap this season. When she gets a hot hand she is extremely dangerous, as evidenced by a career high 27 point game against South Dakota State last season.

“She is as explosive of a small guard as we’re going to play all year,” Miller said. “She can put up huge huge numbers and could play in any league in the country.”

Johnson, a player Miller heavily recruited, averaged 9.5 points last season and had a career high 18 points against Bowling Green last season.

“She is the engine that drives the team,” Miller said. “She is a player that we have to try and contain, we’re not going to shut her down, but we’ve got to contain her.”

Assisting the explosive scorers are a bevvy of bangers in the low post. The IPFW roster has seven players that are at least six feat tall and four more players that are at least 5’10.

“They present a lot of match up problems for us,” he said. “It will be a great test for us to begin a year.”

Their athleticism means they can be successful in transition, but if they have to slow down and play in half court sets they can throw it down to their bigs.

Being undersized in the post is something Miller is prepared for all year, where Miller will start perhaps his two best players the 5-11 Liz Honneger and 6-1 Ali Mann.

“We need to limit caches and get them a little bit out of their comfort zone,” Miller said. “Instead of giving them two or four foot catches away from the basket, if they’re catching it six and eight feet away from the basket it gives us an advantage.”

The team realizes that playing as a champion is different than playing as just another good team and they’re prepared to play with a target on their backs and to face off against every opponents best effort.

“We’ve talked about being a hunted team throughout the preseason,” Miller said. “Now they’ve got to take the words and put them into action.”

“We have a big target on our backs,” Mann said, “so we’re going to have to work that much harder to get back on top.”

Then, with a look of focus and the tone of a competitor Mann said, “Being a defending champion is a tough place to be, but we’re ready for it.”

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