Point Park University Women's Basketball 2013-14 Season Preview
Oct. 25, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. ET
WATCH: Point Park head coach Tony Grenek 2013-14 preseason interview on YouTube.
By Zachary Weiss, Point Park Athletic Communications Student Assistant
The Point Park University women’s basketball team is under the direction of third-year head coach Tony Grenek and hopes to reach the NAIA Division II national tournament for the third year in a row. Still, much has changed from last season. For one, Grenek is joined by an assistant coaching staff of three new members Brittany Dunmire, Abby Allen and Rich Griffin.
“So far they’ve done a great job,” Grenek said of his assistant coaches. “It’s very hard to come in and step in coach [Ryenn] Micaletti’s shoes. She had been with me for six years as a player and partner on a coaching staff. We knew each other and what made each other tick.”
On the floor, the Pioneers welcome back eight players from the 2012-13 KIAC Regular Season and Tournament championship team. That group is led by five seniors, two of which are returning starters Teresa Davis (G/F, 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Katresa Savisky (G/F, 8.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg). Other returning seniors are forwards Anna-Maria Boshkova, Ashley Campbell and Anna Shaw.
Another returning starter is junior forward Ja’Nia McPhatter (F, 15.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who led the Pioneers in scoring and rebounding last year. Guards Haley Sauer, a junior, and Alexa Xenakis, a sophomore, also return this season.
The remainder of the roster is made up of freshmen and transfers. Guard Celina DiPietro and forward Carly Forse are a couple of freshmen from Bishop Canevin High School’s state championship team, and both are expected to have a starting job this year. Another newcomer who will start for the Pioneers is junior college transfer Kayla Kiriau, a transfer from Sheridan (Wyo.) College, who will start at point guard.
Another key addition is 6-0 center Samantha Weir, who started her career at Seton Hill last year but will be a freshman this season. She joins upperclassmen McPhatter, Campbell, Boshkova, Shaw and freshman Forse in making up the Pioneers’ frontcourt.
Backing up Kiriau (pronounced “Kiddle”) at point guard will be Sauer as well as freshman Alexis Lyers. DiPietro, Xenakis and newcomer Lauren Mrazik, a transfer from Lake Erie College, make up the depth chart at shooting guard.
Davis and Savisky are the top two options at small forward, and transfer Vianka Cotton and Carly Corcoran provide the depth. Cotton is a transfer from UNC-Greensboro, and Corcoran is in her second year at Point Park after an injury redshirt last season.
One thing that has not changed for the Pioneers is the ability to play good defense once again. Point Park ranked in the top 10 of NAIA Division II in scoring defense the last two years, and Grenek feels the team can still uphold that standard on the defensive end. This year’s defense is led by seniors Davis and Savisky, who Grenek calls his two best defenders.
“They just play so hard, it’s almost crazy to watch,” Grenek said of Davis and Savisky. “They just go at it 100 miles per hour, nonstop and you’ll never find two kids that play harder than them."
The defense may be set, however the offense has been a struggle at times the last two seasons. That included the NAIA national tournament first-round loss to Indiana Wesleyan, where the Pioneers were held scoreless for over 10 minutes.
“We’ve had big scoring droughts for five or six minutes at a time, and that’s one thing that has really plagued our team these past couple of seasons,” said Grenek. “We have to rectify it if we want to be a national championship-caliber team.”
Another change this year is a schedule that will have a full slate of 30 regular season games. The Pioneers have 16 home games and 17 games in the KIAC. Point Park plays eight of its first 11 games at home and does not play its first conference game until Dec. 7 at home versus Alice Lloyd (Ky.).
“I’m excited because I think it’s going to be huge for us,” Grenek said of the early part of the schedule. “We have so many different options and a lot of depth to figure out. We can grow as a team before we start conference play. We get to look at different players at different situations.”
Point Park opens its season on the road at West Virginia Tech on Saturday. The team's home opener will be Saturday Nov. 2 against Madonna (Mich.).
Point Guard- Kayla Kiriau will be the starting at the point for the Pioneers. Kiriau is a transfer from Sheridan College located in Wyoming. Kiriau is from Lyall Bay, Wellington in New Zealand. Grenek noted that Kiriau is a great ball-handler with good strength while applying heavy ball pressure. Haley Sauer projects to be the backup point guard for the team. Sauer, a junior knows what it takes to win, helping Shaler to the 2010-11 WPIAL Class-AAAA title. Sauer played in 31 games last season starting seven. She averaged 3.5 points per game, 1.8 rebounds per game and had 25 assists last season. Freshman Alexis Lyers (Upper Marlboro, Md.) is the third-stringer.
Shooting Guard- Shooting guard will be a battle between freshman Celina DiPietro and sophomore Alexa Xenakis. DiPietro comes from Bishop Canevin High School which won the state championship last season. DiPietro averaged 12 points per game and six assists a game. Grenek notes her ability to shoot the three and that her experiences have her prepared to start this season. Xenakis returns for her sophomore season. She averaged 2.3 points per game last season in 25 games. Her overall improvement, especially defensively, in her second year of college basketball have Grenek excited. Grenek calls DiPietro and Xenakis a “great 1-2 punch” with DiPietro being a strong shooter and Xenakis a driver of the basketball with an improved shot as well. He cited both as solid defenders. Providing the depth are redshirt freshman Carly Corcoran [Baldwin High School] and transfer Lauren Mrazik, who comes over from Lake Erie College.
Small Forward- This will be a position battle between two seniors in Teresa Davis and Katresa Savisky. Both are known as the best defenders on the Pioneers’ team while offensively both have had their moments. Davis switched from point guard to forward last year and found success averaging 10 points on the season and grabbing five rebounds a game. Savisky was also a key piece last season scoring 8.4 points per game, grabbing 6.4 rebounds per game and shooting 73 percent from the free throw line. Both started 30 out of the team’s 32 games last season. Vianka Cotton, a transfer from UNC-Greensboro, will back them up at the position.
Power Forward- Freshman Carly Forse is expected to make it another freshman from Bishop Canevin in the starting lineup. Forse was a 1,000-point scorer at Bishop Canevin and the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs during the run at a state title. Forse averaged 14 points and 12 rebounds per game at Bishop Canevin and was selected to the Pennsylvania Sports Writer’s Class AA all-state second team. Grenek is excited by the edition of Forse, calling her a grinder and a gamer while saying she plays beyond her years. Seniors Ashley Campbell [5.0 ppg/6 rpg] and Anna-Maria Boshkova [4.0 ppg/2.0 rpg] will serve as backups. Grenek cited that both have good 15 foot jump shots and can come in to provide great minutes.
Center- Ja’Nia McPhatter returns for her junior season and will return to her starting role in the post. McPhatter was the team’s leading scorer last season averaging 15.0 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, both tops on the team. At 5-9 McPhatter is a bit undersized at times in the post but makes up for it with athleticism. A transfer last year from La Roche, she can play any one of the three frontcourt positions. Her backup will be freshman transfer Samantha Weir (Seton Hill University/Riverside High School). Grenek said that Weir is young and raw as a freshman but has nice size and rebounding skills at 6-0. Weir also will be able to play the power forward position. Anna Shaw [2.7 ppg/2.7 rpg] provides depth, and she will play through a knee injury when she is fully cleared to medically. Campbell and Boshkova are also available at center.