BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College is taking a look back at its 2013-14 athletic campaign with a pair of top 10 lists. The first list of the Top 10 Exciting Games and Fantastic Finishes of 2013-14 was completed Monday and can be found here. Today, Moravian starts its second list of the Top 10 Stories from the past year with a look at the No. 10 story – the women's basketball team leading NCAA Division III in blocked shots.
The Hounds blocked a school-record 239 shots over 28 games this past winter, an average of 8.5 per contest. Moravian had 47 more blocks and averaged more than 1.6 blocked shot per game than second-place St. Joseph's (N.Y.) College.
"I am not sure we really work on blocking shots in practice," said Head Coach Mary Beth Spirk. "It is really about good timing and the ability to jump and read. The other thing is that it brings excitement to the team and the crowd. Much like a three-pointer, the block shot is contagious and is fun to watch .. .if you can do it without fouling ... which we stressed, block the shot, but do not foul."
The Greyhounds' total came from 14 different players led by senior forward Laura Jordan, who swatted a career-high 98 shots for an average of 3.63 a contest that ranked sixth individually in Division III. Her 98 blocks were the third most in a single season in school history, and Jordan completed her career second in the Greyhound record book with 198 blocked shots.
"While on defense I would mainly focus on being in help defense," stated Jordan. "I would pay attention to the rest of my teammates and, if they were in trouble, I would be there to help them out by blocking a shot.
"The timing is very important when blocking a shot," continued Jordan. "I honestly like to let the person pass me a little bit so I am on their side. This gives me a better angle to get a clean block on the shot."
"When I'm on defense, I'm focused on helping my teammates," explained Blair. "It's important to know where the ball is at all times. Our defense was based on 'team' not just focusing on your own girl. Obviously you want to get that awesome blocked shot but the main focus is knowing where the ball is at all times, and the blocks will come.
"I feel like a lot of times you just know you're going to block the shot," Blair continued. "With our defense, if one of my teammates got beat by their girl, it was the post's job to step up and help defend while the guards rotated in to pick up our girls. We tallied a lot of blocks by help defense when our opponent would drive into us and we would step up to help."
Sophomore forward Alesha Marcks had 22 of the Hounds' blocks while freshman forward Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering swatted 16 shots in her debut season. Senior guard Danielle Brogan was the sixth member of the team in double figures with 13 blocks.
Sophomore forward Karlee Corvasce added six blocked shots while sophomore guard Emily MacDonnell had five blocks. Senior guard Alyssa Hann, freshman guard Nellie Tanguay and freshman forward Shannon Zimmerman each swatted four shots while senior guard Katie O'Rourke contributed three blocks.
"I think that I was genuinely surprised about the total team effort in blocking shots," commented Spirk. "It is still hard to fathom that we can lead the country without Alexis on the court. If I had to pick someone specifically that surprised I would say Ericka. We knew Laura could block shots, as she proven it the past three years, but Ericka really stepped up her game in this area."
Wright, who had entered the season third in school history and has 139 career blocks, was injured during the Greyhounds' 78-49 win over Centenary College on December 9, the same game that the squad broke the school record with 22 blocked shots. It was one of 11 contests that saw the Hounds in double-digit blocked shots with Moravian winning nine of those games. The fewest blocked shots the Greyhounds recorded in a game in 2013-14 was two at the Catholic University of America in the Landmark Conference Semifinals.
Jordan, Blair and Coach Spirk all feel that being the nation's leader in blocked shots this past season was an outstanding feat.
"The fact that as a team we were No. 1 in the nation is something that is really remarkable," commented Jordan. "Most people on the team were able to contribute at least one block. It was something we were able to accomplish together. Individual statistics are really great, but when you're able to be No. 1 in something as a team it says something about the way the team works together."
"It is so special to me that our team led the nation in blocked shots," Blair said. "There can only be one No. 1, and it is so rewarding to know that my efforts contributed to such an awesome accomplishment. It says a lot about our concept of 'team defense' and 'team' as a whole. We were always there to help each other out and pick each other up on and off the court."
"To lead the country in blocked shots with possibly one of the best shot blockers to ever play at Moravian out for most of the season is an incredible accomplishment," Spirk said. "I think the entire 'shot blocking' mentality started with Ally Blair when she played. Her ability, combined with Alexis, raised the bar in that area. When Ericka and Laura became Hounds, we really stepped it up a notch."
While Jordan and Blair led a the group of seniors who have now graduated, the Greyhounds will return a squad that includes Wright who along with six other teammates accounted for 78 of the 239 blocks this past winter.
Top 10 Stories of 2013-14
#10 – Women's Basketball Leads DIII in Blocked Shots
#9 – TBA
#8 – TBA
#7 – TBA
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#3 – TBA
#2 – TBA
#1 – TBA