It’s one time where having a month of practice
before your first game is a very good thing. HU head women’s basketball coach
Kerri Stockwell knows the 2011-12 version of the Pipers will look radically
different than last year’s contingent that made a late run at the MIAC
Exactly how different … and who will end up the
scoring and rebounding leaders … is something that won’t be determined until the
team has played a few games. The first of those comes up today bat 5:30 p.m. at Hutton Arena against Northwestern (MN).
Mary Wilkowski, last year’s Player Of The Year
who was also on the D3hoops.com All-West region team and was an Honorable
Mention All-American, has graduated and taken her league-leading scoring average
with her. She was also second in the league in rebounding. It’s a force that
simply cannot be replaced.
With only two players returning who were
regular starters last year, Stockwell said there are great opportunities for
players to step into leadership roles.
“What will make us successful is if we can get
on the same page as to decision making about things like tempo,” she said.
“We’ll definitely run if we can.”
Fortunately for Stockwell, one of those two
returning regulars is junior guard Kara Poirier. She connected on 47
three-pointers a year ago and is the top returning assist player with 70. “Her
versatility is her strength,” Stockwell notes. “On top of that, she’s a real
competitor, a natural on-court leader.”
The other returnee is senior forward Stephanie
Rice. At 5-10, she offers size inside (59 defensive rebounds last year) and game
day experience. More importantly, she’s healthy. Last year, a back injury
sidelined here for the first month of the season. “We’re looking for her to
handle the opposing team’s post player,” Stockwell said.
As for the open positions, the names may change
often. “It’s going to depend on who we play,” Stockwell said. “We’re going to
have be flexible because half the team is new this year.”
There are many options at guard. Steph Pilgrim,
a junior who was a main cog for Anoka-Ramsey, last year’s national JC champions,
offers a three-point presence and a winning pedigree. Her last-minute long range
shot provided the winning points for the Rams last March. “She has had a lot of
success on the court,” noted Stockwell. Carly Cathey, a freshman, is another
guard possibility. She, too, was a long range bomber in high school in Arizona.
Je’Naya Brown played in 24 games last season. Allison Ruter, a terrific athlete
from New-London Spicer, Danielle Daniels, a transfer from Des Moines Area CC,
Jordan Sammons, who joined the team after a successful soccer season at Hamline
and Jasmine Clemons, a sophomore who was on last year’s team, are all in the mix
“It will be depend on the situation as to who
plays when,” Stockwell said.
Up front, 6-3 soph Veronika Jakubovie saw
action in just nine games last year. But she was able to practice every day
against Wilkowski. “She learned a lot from that experience,” Stockwell observed.
Cassidy Vogt, a 6-0 junior, can play guard as well as forward. Rachel Usgaard, a
5-8 first-year guard-forward who was the top scorer for West Lutheran last year,
is expected to see action as well.
The 22-game MIAC schedule means the Pipers will
simply have to dive headfirst into conference competition and do some learning
on the fly. “We’re looking for consistency and that can only come from practice
and playing games,” Stockwell said.
A year ago, the Pipers rebounded from a slow
start and nearly made the conference playoffs, losing out on a tie breaker to
Macalester. Stockwell hopes the lesson from that experience – that every MIAC
game matters greatly – sticks with the returnees and is quickly imprinted into
the heads of the newcomers. “This is a very tough league,” she said. “Each team
is unique in style and that makes it harder to prepare for them. A key for us
this season will be to improve defensively and cut down on second chance shots.
On offense, we need to get into the right position and establish the tempo we
In the annual MIAC Coaches pre-season poll, Hamline was picked in a tie with St. Catherine for ninth place. The complete conference preview can be found here.