Season of NKU hoops pumps up fans

Here, in no particular order, are 10 reasons why Norse fans should be excited about the basketball season:

10. Coach Dave Bezold. He enters his first season as head coach of the Norse following 14 years as an assistant under Ken Shields. A few strong showings in exhibition games against Division I teams to open the season showed the type of talent his team has, as well as showing off his coaching skills.

9. Coach Nancy Wintstel. Beginning her 22nd season as head coach at NKU, her name is synonymous with women’s hoops. Winstel has a 456-151 career record, 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, eight Great Lakes Valley Conference championships, four Final Fours and a national championship in 2000. Her team returns several key players and defeated the 2000 NCAA Champions in an exhibition game.

8. Tough competition. Aside from playing the 2000 NCAA Champions, the women also face tough competition from such GLVC foes as Bellarmine, Indianapolis and Quincy.

The men had the scrimmages with Kentucky, Cincinnati and Ohio State, but they’re following up those games with two great teams from Michigan: Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. Plus, let’s not forget about the GLVC competition that includes teams like Southern Indiana, Kentucky Wesleyan SIUE-Edwardsville.

7. Fresh faces on both teams. Harrison Morton, Mark Hawkins, Travis Rasso, Tory Reed and Derek Smith all arrived at NKU in different ways and saw playing time in the preseason games. Morton, Smith and Reed all saw significant minutes against top-notch competition.

Angela Healy and Nicole Chiodi both got significant playing time in the first game.

6. Three-point shooting. If you like long range shooting, you’ll probably love these teams. Mike Kelsey, Steve Purdon and Brian Lewin all showed off their range against UK; look for that to continue during the season.

Nikki Perkins, Karyn Creager and Karmen Graham got in on the action in their first exhibition game. As a team, the women went 12-20 from outside.

5. Dunking. It’s difficult to pick one player here, but come on, nothing pumps a crowd up more in sports than a perfectly executed dunk.

4. Rowdier crowds. With the number of students higher than ever at NKU, hopefully the cheering section will be more wild than ever.

3. Web broadcasts. If you can’t be one of the rowdy fans at the game and don’t have access to the radio, just go to the NKU Athletics Web site and follow the Web broadcast.

2. Free admission. Anyone can attend home games at no cost if they present their NKU All-Card.

1. The Kentucky Wesleyan Game. They were mentioned as one of the tough teams the Norse play this season, but the game deserves its own ranking. The in-state rival of the Norse visits both teams on Feb. 5.