MARQUETTE, Mich. – A talented group of incoming freshmen, guided by four leading seniors will take to the court for the 2011-12 Northern Michigan women’s basketball team.
NMU finished the 2010-11 season in sixth place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division at 12-14 overall and 7-12 in the GLIAC.
“I thought we played well defensively last season, we just struggled to get the ball to the basket and to shoot,” said head coach Troy Mattson. “From a win-loss standpoint, it was disappointing to not make the conference tournament.”
NMU was picked to finish sixth in the preseason GLIAC North Division Poll this season.
“This season we return our three top scorers from a year ago in Chelsea Lyons, Staci Beckel and Hillary Bowling,” said Mattson.
Returning at the forward position are seniors Staci Beckel and Hillary Bowling. Beckel was second on the team in scoring with 10.7 points per game last season. She was also named team “Newcomer of the Year” last season. Bowling appeared in 23 games and started 22 last season, leading the ‘Cats with 40 3-pointers made.
Also competing at the forward position are sophomore Katie Becker, redshirt freshman Brooke Coenen and freshman Abbey DeBruin.
At the guard position, senior Chelsea Lyons returns to lead a young backcourt. Lyons was a member of the GLIAC North Division Second Team last season and led NMU in scoring with 12.8 points per game and tied in the lead 5.3 rebounds per game. She also had six 20-point games last year.
“I feel really good at our guard situation,” said Mattson. “Chelsea will play the point guard for us this year, which she is a natural at.”
Also competing at the guard position are senior Jessica Stevenson, freshmen Alyssa Colla, Lauren Gruber, Katelyn Husband, Eryn Maday and Sarah Miller.
Returning at center for NMU is sophomore Annie Rubendunst. The sophomore appeared in 12 games last year for the ‘Cats. Also competing at center are freshmen Ashley Berth, Emily Bray and Courtney Lemon.
“I’m excited about our center position,” said Mattson. “This is probably the most depth that we’ve had in years.”
“We will feature a lot of talented freshman backing up our returning starters,” said Mattson. “The team has a lot more depth this season and offensively we have quite a bit more talent than we did a year ago.”
In terms of their schedule, the ‘Cats open their regular season at home on Nov. 13 against the University of Minnesota-Duluth.
The ‘Cats play a 26-game schedule, with a 12-game home schedule at the Berry Events Center. NMU plays a 7-game non-conference schedule, which includes contests against NCAA II, III and NAIA opponents. One of the highlights of the schedule is a Thanksgiving Weekend tournament at the University of Indianapolis on Nov. 25-26.
The ‘Cats conclude their non-conference schedule at home on Dec. 28 against Finlandia.
The Wildcats home conference schedule is highlighted with contests against Michigan Tech (Jan. 5), Grand Valley State (Jan. 19) and Lake Superior State (Feb. 9).
“We have a very talented team, with a young group of players that will continue to grow every single game,” said Mattson. “I think this team will be very exciting to watch this year.”
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