INDIANOLA, Iowa -- The Simpson women's basketball team opens the 2018-19 season Sunday, Nov. 11 when the Storm host the Millikin Big Blue at Cowles Fieldhouse. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.
The Storm and 32nd-year head coach Brian Niemuth are coming off a 14-13 season in 2017-18 and a sixth-place finish in the conference. Simpson returns two starters from last year's squad but will feature a smaller, faster lineup in the 45th season of women's basketball at Simpson.
KEY RETURNERS (2017-18 stats)
Jenna Taylor, Jr., F — 10.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.3 apg, honorable mention all-conference
Janey Botkins, Jr., G — 8.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.0 apg, third in Division III in 3-point percentage (47.2)
Claire Johnson, Jr., PG — 5.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.4 apg
Cameron Kincaid, So., F — 4.9 ppg, 3.0 apg, 0.6 apg
Rachel Freland, Sr., F — 4.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.3 apg
Kali Rasmussen, Sr, G — 2.1 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.5 apg
WATCH THE STORM IN HD: Storm basketball fans can enjoy all Simpson home games in high definition, all free of charge! Logon to SimpsonAthletics.com to access Simpson's video streaming portal through Stretch Internet.
PRESEASON POLL: The Storm were picked to tie for fifth in the American Rivers Conference Preseason Coaches Poll. Simpson received 34 points, tied with Nebraska Wesleyan. Luther led the way with 63 points, including seven first-place votes. Defending champion Wartburg picked up 58 points with two, first-place votes. Loras (47) was third and Coe (39) fourth. Buena Vista (24), Dubuque (16) and Central (9) rounded out the poll.
SHARPSHOOTERS: Simpson was among the nation's best shooting teams in 2017-18, a trend the team would like to continue this season. The Storm ranked fifth in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (38.2) and eighth in overall field goal percentage (45.5).
BOTKINS DEADLY FROM DEEP: Junior guard Janey Botkins is coming off a sophomore campaign in which she was among the nation's best 3-point shooters. Botkins ranked third in Division III in 3-point percentage, shooting 47.2 percent from long range. Her 59 3-pointers were the third-most in the league, and she enters the 2018-19 season fifth in school history with 109 3s.
TAYLOR FINISHES STRONG: Junior forward Jenna Taylor was the team's second-leading scorer in 2017-18, averaging better than 10 points per game and ranking third in the conference with a 53.5 shooting percentage. She did a majority of her damage at the end of the season, averaging 19.6 points over the final 10 games after averaging less than eight in the first 16. Her late season surge began with a 33-point outburst in an 89-74 win at Central on Jan. 17.
NIEMUTH AMONG NATION'S BEST: The winningest coach in Iowa Conference and American Rivers Conference history, Brian Niemuth enters his 32nd year as Simpson's head coach in 2018-19. After pulling double-duty as the Storm's Athletic Director for the past five seasons, Niemuth's sole focus returns to women's basketball this season. Under Niemuth, the Storm have won 11 conference championships, made 11 trips to the NCAA Tournament and appeared in the Sweet 16 three times. Entering this season, his 573 wins are the 10th-most among active Division III coaches and 20th all-time. He is one of just 53 coaches out of 1,113 across all divisions to have coached at the same school for 30-plus years.