Women’s basketball: Valpo grad Stefanie Lang shining in two sports
Olivet College junior Stefanie Lang is not the best case study for the importance of preseason conditioning and practices.
A two-sport standout at the NCAA Division III school in Michigan, Lang needed little time to transition into basketball season.
Less than two weeks to be precise.
Olivet’s volleyball season ended on Nov. 2, and Lang finished with the second-most kills on the team. Basketball season opened 12 days later and Lange responded by scoring a program single-game record 43 points in a win over Kenyon.
Lang, a Valparaiso High graduate, is averaging 23.3 points per game for Olivet, and until the past weekend, had led Division III in scoring. She currently ranks fourth nationally.
“I didn’t expect any of this at all,” said Lange, who transferred from Olivet from Valparaiso University. “I’m definitely more confident, which helps. But you wouldn’t think someone without any preseason training would do this.”
At 6-foot-5, Lang possesses size rarely seen at the Division III level. It’s led to the start of a prolific career, in which she’s on pace to finish as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
“Once she gets into her position, nobody is going to move her out of that,” Olivet coach Nicole Burford said. “As long as she takes her time and is patient with getting position, and taking the shot she wants, there’s not much that a lot of people she’s going to face are going to be able to do once she gets the ball.”
Olivet’s all-time leading scorer, Louisa Grill, finished with 1,310 points. Lange is shooting 54 percent from the field, so the prolific numbers aren’t inflated due to high shot totals.
“We want her to take the shot, but she’s actually super-duper unselfish,” Burford said, “so going into this season we had to put it in her head that her shooting the ball is a very high percentage for us, so we need her to be a little bit selfish for us.”
These records are likely to be broken by Lang despite a career that will last a little more than 2½ years. She averaged a team-high 12 points per game last season, her first at Olivet, but played in 18 games and averaged just 17 minutes.
Lang tore her meniscus during the 2012 volleyball season, but it wasn’t diagnosed until the first weekend of basketball season. It led to surgery and a brief rehabilitation process.
“I don’t think she was even on crutches for a day,” Burford said. “It was crazy how fast she came back and was ready. Still, we wanted to ease her back. After the injury I didn’t know what she was going to be able to do. I just wanted her to be paying, because just with her on the floor, other teams have to think and figure out what they’re going to do to defend against her.”
Olivet (10-2) is working toward winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which includes Hope, the second-ranked team in the nation.
Lang provided 21 points and 12 rebounds in Olivet’s 82-57 loss to Hope earlier this season, with a rematch scheduled for Jan. 29.
“They make it more difficult than most of the teams we’ll face,” Burford said. “But she still put up a double-double, but I know she wanted more from herself.”
In the end, it’s not about putting up big individual numbers against Hope.
“I’m really bad at looking into the future but I’m looking more for team stuff than individual stuff,” Lange said. “The thing I want more than anything is to win a conference championship. I want a ring that says, ‘Olivet: Conference Champions.’”