By: Nick Knapper, firstname.lastname@example.org
When you build tradition, you also build expectations.
Head Coach Karla Nelson is entering her 19th year of coaching MSUM’s womens’ basketball and has yet to have a losing season. MSUM has three returning starters from last year’s team, and they hope to capitalize off a strong 2017-2018 season, where they finished 23-6 overall and 19-3 in the NSIC. The MSUM women’s basketball team opened their season Friday, Nov. 2nd with a 95-44 exhibition win against the University of Minnesota-Morris.
Jacky Volkert, the lone senior, is expected to lead this young Dragons team through a rough stretch at the beginning of the season, when they play nine games in a row on the road.
“Volkert is one of the best guards in the conference,” said Nelson. “She’s going to have to take on more of a scoring role.”
Volkert averaged 13 points per game while also dishing out six assists and getting over four rebounds a game.
Another player that Nelson is going to rely on is Megan Hintz. This 6’2” junior is coming off of a summer where she got to play for the USA D-2 basketball team tour to Brazil. Last season, Hintz averaged 11.4 points per game and seven rebounds per game.
Nelson said that their first goal is winning the north division of the NSIC, then the conference championship. To do this, the Dragons will have to be physical and able to win on the road, which is tough in the NSIC.
“Traditionally we’ve been a good rebounding team,” Nelson explained. “We also have to work to be in the top 25 in the turnover ratio.”
MSUM matched up with Arkansas Tech University in their first regular season game on Nov. 9, taking down the Golden Suns 65-51 at the Central Region Challenge in Kansas City, Missouri. The team also dribbled past a tough Pittsburg State team, 66-55.
Natalie Steichen, Emma Thuringer, Autumn Schlader, Nicole Herbranson and Nicole Brown are all true freshmen, and Peyton Boom is a redshirt freshman. All of these players have high expectations from their coach.
“She tells you how it is,” Boom said about her coach. “It sucks sometimes, but you need to know what to work on.”
This Dragons ranked second in the preseason NSIC polls, receiving three first-place votes and 185 points. The University of Sioux Falls was the preseason favorite, getting nine first-place votes and 208 points. The two will face off in the Nemzek Fieldhouse Feb. 9.
The youthful Dragons have a long season ahead. A physical and challenging schedule awaits them during the regular season. This team is hoping to rebound, shoot and score their way to the conference championship.
Next up, MSUM travels to Houghton, Michigan, to take on Michigan Tech Saturday, Nov. 16.