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Column: Fourth time’s the charm?

The women’s basketball team has taken a step forward each year under head coach Andrea Gorski. This year, the team is poised to take another big step under the fourth-year coach.

In 2016, Gorski took over a team whose last winning season was in 2011-12. The team made immediate progress by improving to 12 wins in 2016 and 13 wins in 2017 from nine in 2015. The team made a leap last season with 20 wins including 10 during the conference slate.

By returning the majority of its key players from last year’s 20-win season, there is no reason this team cannot take another step forward.

The returners account for 73 percent of last year’s minutes, 79 percent of last year’s points and 80 percent of last year’s rebounds. Most importantly, Bradley returns its three best players.

Senior forward Chelsea Brackmann was perhaps the biggest piece of Bradley’s team last season as she averaged a double-double and added 48 steals and 30 blocks. Junior Gabi Haack continued her impressive career averaging 14.9 points per game last year.

Also, Bradley returns Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, Lasha Peteree. Petree has no lack of play-making ability as she averaged 13.2 points per game last season.

If Brackmann, Haack and Petree can continue to play to their full potential, this team can be dangerous in the MVC. However, the success of this team does not end with its returning players.

Gorski added three freshmen to its roster this offseason. The Braves will look to get help from 6-foot 2-inch forward Roni Roberts, 5-foot 8-inch guard Violeta Verano Fores and 5-foot 11-inch guard Mahri Petree, sister of Lasha. These newcomers bring great experience including second-place finishes in Michigan from Petree and international experience from Verano Fores.

Gorski will look to get immediate contributions from these newcomers and should go along nicely with the strong bunch of returning players. This Bradley team can beat last year’s win total of 20 and even give MVC favorite Drake a run for its money.

The men’s basketball team made the NCAA tournament in Brian Wardle’s fourth year at the helm: Will the women do the same in Gorski’s fourth year?

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