College Women’s Basketball Preview: UMD Will Still Be Hard To Beat With New Look – Duluth News Tribune

Duluth – Meissen Theissen admitted there have been times she’s looked around on the field this season and said, “Wow, that looks different.”

This is because he is Different, but being different can be good. really good.

Minnesota-Duluth will have a fresh look this season as the Bulldogs graduate three starters in Sarah Grow (9.7 ppg), Ann Simonet (7.1 ppg), and Payton Kahl (5.5 ppg). These three, along with Brooke Olson (18.0 ppg) and Thiesen (8.8 ppg), have formed the core of UMD in the past three seasons when UMD went 64-13 combined, including last year where the Bulldogs went 24-5 while sharing the highest NSIC honors with St. Cloud State, as both teams went 19-2 in conference play.

At 6-foot-2, Grow provided a huge presence on the inside while leading the Bulldogs with 58 blocks, Simonet was a feisty player, leading the Bulldogs in 3 runs (36) and steals (49) while Kahl delivered unheard-of finesse, a 6-foot guard/ A striker who can play inside and out.

“It’s been a while and we’re all just starting out on the ground,” Theissen said. “It was as fun as it was going. It was a good time.”

But like all good things, it’s time to move on.

UMD has two really good players to build two fifth-year players, Olson (Rice Lake, WI) and Tessin (Sauk Center, Minnesota).

Olson is a three-time NSIC Player of the Year while Thiesen is a workhorse, having played the most minutes of any UMD player in the past two seasons.

The Bulldogs’ goals remain to win the conference title and make a run to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Minnesota guard Duluth/Forward Madeline Granica fires a shot

Minnesota Duluth/Madeline Granica, left, prepares to launch a three-pointer during practice at Romano Gym’s women’s basketball on the UMD campus Thursday, Oct. 27.
Dan Williamson/Duluth News-Tribune

“Being successful for a few years, we always have that expectation no matter who is on the ground,” said Theissen. “We’ll always want to be successful. Even now, a lot of my team-mates who are playing more minutes, they’ve seen that culture and that culture is very clear. It makes it exciting, but the expectation is also there. We want to win, and we’ll do what we need to do to be successful.” .

So far, it’s good that UMD has started at 2-1 going into the NSIC opener on Tuesday night against St. Cloud State.

“It will be exciting to play Saint Cloud,” said Theissen. “St. Cloud always have such good teams. It will be a good game.”

Olson leads the way again starting this fall with 20 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while Thiesen averages 8.7 ppg and 3.0 rpg.

“Here we go again,” said UMD instructor Mandy Pearson.

Pearson was asked what interested her most.

“Brooke Olson and Maesen Thissen back,” she said. “I think the best thing I’ve come out of COVID is I’ve kept some really strong leaders for a year longer than they usually have here (thanks to the NCAA giving another year of eligibility). It makes my job and my life so much easier. The energy on the team is really strong.”

Minnesota Duluth head coach Mandy Pearson watches during practice

Framed by players in motion, Minnesota-Duluth head coach Mandy Pearson, second from left, looks on during practice for the Romano Gym women’s basketball team on the UMD campus Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.
Dan Williamson/Duluth News-Tribune

Among the newer faces, Ella Gilbertson, the 6-foot small guard/forward, averages 9.0 ppg and 4.3 rpg off the bench. Senior guards Taytum Rhoades (6.7 ppg, team leader 5.0 rpg) and Kaylee Nelson (6.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg), as well as senior guard/forward Madelyn Granica (5.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg), round out the starting rotation.

“We’ve had the same team for three years, but now other people will have the opportunity,” Pearson said. “It will be fun to see what we make of this year. I think it will be a year where we keep getting better and better every step of the way.”

Granica was already a well-known commodity to Bulldogs fans. She is a tough and spunky player who has played valuable minutes with the Bulldogs in previous seasons.

Meanwhile, young guard Taya Hakamaki, Cromwell’s 2020 All-Area Player of the Year, provided a spark off the bench. Hakamaki averages six points and two steals in just 16.7 minutes per game.

So there’s a lot of new stuff for the Bulldogs this year, but that’s okay. Just ask Thiesen.

“We are a little younger, especially experienced,” said Theissen. “It’s been exciting just discovering who we are as a team. We’re learning how to work together, on the ground, both offensively and defensively. Our strengths are different now than they were in the past, so it’s been exciting trying to figure out what those things are and how we can use them to our advantage.”

The Saints hope to see improvement

St. Scholastica’s sophomore head coach Jason Schmitz hopes to build on last season, but it won’t be easy playing in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Saints are coming off a 3-22 season and a 3-19 mark in the MIAC. This year, they’re starting 0-3 after dropping their MIAC opener 77-48 to Concordia-Moorhead on Saturday at Reif Gymnasium in Duluth (yes, MIAC plays a lot of games).

“Overall, things are going well,” Schmitz said. “We had some injury issues early on that drained a lot of our depth but we are slowly working to get back to health. We finally had a full squad for a few days in practice last week which was the first time since week one of the season.”

The Saints have a relatively new roster of four newcomers. They all see important minutes and have already started three, joining returning starters Miranda Broberg and Megan Hurley.

Broberg, a transfer from Wisconsin-Superior, was the only CSS player to average in double figures last year at 14.5 points per game. She earned All-MIAC honors. Meanwhile, Hurley is an unknown player who does the little things that don’t always show up in the score box.

They are joined in the starting five by Katie Vaskey, transfer Hamline, and first-year players Jackie Johnson (Bemidji, MN) and Lexi Emedicki (Andover, MN).

Other major returnees include Eve Turner, a former Hibbing High School producer, and juniors Ashley Fuhr and Procter’s Liz Fries.

“Honestly, I have no idea where we will end up in the standings this year, but I know that we will improve every day and define the pillars of our program this year,” said Schmitz. “We’re emphasizing standards-based improvement over measurable goals this year. We don’t want to lose our edge but rather focus on the things we can control every day.

“Basketball is an interesting sport that is often hard to make or to miss. If we focus on us, we will continue to improve and see where we come in February.”

Schmitz is assisted by Gil Hendrickson and Diami Starks, a Duluth East alumnus and former NCAA Division I Bryant University of Rhode Island standout. Diame runs the Starks Academy in Duluth.

“Working with Diami was amazing,” said Schmitz. “I was fortunate to coach both the Starks Academy Under-15 and Under-17 teams with him this past spring and summer and it was only natural to continue working on growing basketball in the Duluth area. We want to make both Starks Academy and CSS a destination. He and Gil bring tremendous energy and knowledge.” .

Carpenter leads the yellow jackets

Wisconsin Superior has a new interim coach in Emily Carpenter, a former UWS player.

Carpenter wasn’t hired until August, with only two years left to play for the Yellow Jackets. Carpenter played with the seniors on this year’s team.

The Yellowjackets were selected to finish sixth in the UMAC after going 6-19 overall and 5-9 in conference play. They started the match with a score of 2-1.

UWS played 13th-ranked Simpson on Saturday in Indianola, Iowa, stalling hard before eventually going down 77-70, which shows reasons for optimism.

The Yellowjackets have a small recruiting class with only three new members. Top returnees include guards Kailyn Christian, Maddy Sanders, and Procter’s Sam Barendeau and forward Brighton Kukowski, a Hermantown High School graduate.

Kukowski, who also plays softball, is one of a handful of multi-sport athletes on the team, including Lindry Schindl (soccer), Bryn Crystal (soccer) and Erika Mattson (softball) of Eli.

UWS will play against former WIAC foes Wisconsin-La Crosse and Wisconsin-Platteville in the La Crosse Thanksgiving Classic. The Yellowjackets will play NCAA Division I North Dakota in Grand Forks Dec. 2 and the UMAC Open on Dec. 9 against Bethany Lutheran in Mankato, Minnesota.

The UWS will host the Superior Shootout Classic on December 30-31, with the Yellowjackets’ first game against St. Catherine’s, coached by former UWS head coach Don Mulhern. It will be the first time the two clubs have played each other since Mulhern went to St Kitt ahead of the 2016-17 season.

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