Women expect improvement

The Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball program has kicked into high gear for the 2011-12 season.

The team is looking to improve on last year’s record of 18-10, and a season in which they did not make the NCAA Tournament. With several key players returning and newcomers who can have an immediate impact, senior guard Casse Mogan believes that this team can be better this year.

“I think we have a better team than last year all around,” Mogan said. “It’s just going out there, playing hard and getting ready for each game. We should improve from what we did last year and have a better record.”

Head coach Nancy Winstel believes that through hard work, team unity and the players showing up every game, the team can build upon what they accomplished last year.

The two leading scorers from last year return for their senior years. Mogan averaged 17.8 points per game, helping her to earn a spot on the Great Lakes Valley Conference first team. Forward Sadie Bowling averaged 9.3 points per game and also led the team in rebounding (7.3 per game).
Also returning to the team are four other players who started more than 10 games: junior guard Jaimie Hamlet, junior forward Kelsey Simpson, junior center Ellen Holton and sophomore guard Kayla Thacker.

“I feel good about our team right now,” Winstel said. “We’re coming together but we’re not where we want to be. However, we’re working pretty hard in practice and when you have experience returning, it’s always a good thing.”

NKU brought in Division I transfers senior guard Maria Bennett from Wright State and junior forward Tiara Hopper from Tennessee Tech. Bennett averaged 9.8 points per game as a junior and led Wright State in 3-pointers made. Hopper started 11 times as a sophomore and averaged 6.9 points per game.
Head coach Nancy Winstel said the transfers can improve the team after they adjust to the program.

“I think both of them have the ability to help us,” Winstel said. “They just need to learn what we’re doing here and adapt to our system. Hopefully, they will both be able to help us at some point in time.”

Assistant student coach Ben Franzen said the two transfers will help the team improve in certain areas of the game.

“Maria definitely contributes to our team something that we really did not have last season, a shooter with no conscience, having someone like that is a definite help,” Franzen said. “Tiara adds depth to the post; we look for her to continue to work and make improvements to the team down low.”
On top of adding two Division I transfers, the NKU Women’s basketball team added three freshmen recruits.

“I believe Kaitlyn Gerrety is knocking on the door to start,” Winstel said. “Melody Doss gets better every day and Ashley Schaefer is working really hard to learn our stuff. I think our freshmen could contribute this year for sure.”

Senior Forward Stephanie Hodges said that one of their strengths this season is their team chemistry.

“We are the most together team I’ve ever seen,” Hodges said. “We hang out together on and off the court. We are always laughing and everyone gets along. We just mesh really really well.”

The Norse will open the regular season on Nov. 15 at the Bank of Kentucky Center. They will take on Virginia-Wise, a member of the NAIA’s Appalachian Athletic Conference.