Loss of last season’s key players a hurdle for NKU women

A tough task awaits the 2001 women’s basketball team in filling the basketball shoes of last year’s four senior starters.

Those starters, Michelle Tuchfarber, Heather Livingstone, Julie Cowens and Jessica Jenson left two starting guard positions, a starting forward position and a starting center position empty.

Senior Michelle Cottrell is the Norse’s only returning starter, but Coach Nancy Winstel isn’t concerned about her new lineup.

“Even though we only have one starter from last year, we do have experienced players ready to assume these roles,” Winstel said.

Cottrell averaged 17.4 points and 8 rebounds last year, leading the team in both.

“I just want to lead by example this year,” Cottrell said. “Coming out as a starter, I want to get the team off to a good start.”

Senior guard Suzie Smith will be a key player the Norse look to this year.

“Suzie’s been waiting to take on the guard position,” Cottrell said. “It’s her senior year and she’s been working hard.”

Junior guard Bridget Flanagan will be another key guard.

“Bridget’s worked hard this summer,” Cottrell said. “She got on a basketball league and came to every open gym this summer. She’s really working hard to take on a new role.”

Mandy Sterling, a transfer from Barry University, will add more depth to the guard position.

Senior Dana Schubeler will bring experience to the center position. Winstel also counts on her for being a key player this year.

Two freshman, forward Connie Myers and guard Elizabeth Burrows, should also help the Norse on the court. Burrows, from Eastern Brown, lead her team to the Ohio Division III state finals.

“We did lose two very good players in the backcourt, and it is going to be interesting to see how everything develops,” Winstel said.

The Norse will also be working on their outside game this season.

“We are constantly striving to improve as a team, particularly on defense,” Winstel said. “Teams are probably going to pack it up against Cottrell, so we will have to shoot the ball well from outside.”

Cottrell hopes the team will be able to win conference and the conference title. To win conference, they need the best record out of other Great Lakes Valley Conference teams during regular season, Cottrell said. Winning the conference title means winning at the conference tournament.

To achieve these goals, the Norse have to become a team on and off the court, Cottrell said.

“Last year we had a lot of conflicts and it spilled onto the floor,” Cottrell said. “This year, we’re more united.”

Winstel also said if they want to reach their goals, they have to work hard, play as a team and stay together as a team.

Cottrell hasn’t just set goals for the team; she’s set some record-breaking goals for herself. According to the women’s basketball Web site Cottrell has scored 1,710 points since her freshman year. She just needs 174 points to break the all time scoring record.

She doesn’t want to just break it though; she has her eyes set on 2,000 points. With an average of 17.4 points last season and about 26 regular season games on the 2001-2002 schedule, she could score about 452 points in her last senior year, putting herself well above the 2,000 points mark.

“Every game, I’m just going to go out there and do my best,” she said. “Whatever happens happens.”

The women’s basketball season starts at home Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m. against Georgetown College. Their schedule won’t start to get too hectic until after fall semester.

“Second semester, it gets crazy with missing school for road trips,” Cottrell said. “That’s when we really start playing Conference teams.”

By spring semester, the Norse should be ready and comfortable in their new roles and as a team. But for right now, Cottrell said she is eager to get started.

“I’m looking forward to starting games and seeing what we’re capable of doing,” she said.