Despite losing the MIAC’s top scorer, the Gustavus Women’s Basketball team will be tough
The temperatures are down and excitement is up as the beginning of basketball season is nearing. The Gustavus women’s basketball team has been practicing for a month now in preparation of the tip-off of competition.
Mickey Haller once again leads the Gustie troops into the season in her ninth year as head coach. Coach Haller is the winningist women’s basketball coach in the history of Gustavus’ program, accumulating an overall record of 153-61 and a MIAC record of 128-44, which also gives her the highest winning percentage (.715) in the history of the women’s program.
Last year’s team finished the season with an overall mark of 18-10 and 16-6 in MIAC play, grabbing them the third place finish in the MIAC. Gustavus was bounced from the MIAC tournament in the semifinals after a loss to St. Thomas, but received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament before falling to Simpson in the opening round.
The Gusties graduated just two players from last year—Jess Vadnais and Vicky Peterson—both on-floor captains and integral parts of the team. Vadnais led the team in several offensive categories including both two- and three-point field goals made, averaging 19.l points per game.
Vadnais graduated as the school record holder in points in a career with 1,779—highest among both men’s and women’s basketball. She also left as all-time leader in three-point field goals made (210), free throws made (481) and steals (223).
Vicky Peterson was a solid force on the inside pulling down 3.7 rebounds per game as well as 4.0 points per game and dishing 1.5 assists per game.
This year’s squad is lead by four captains, including Senior Emily Nelson and Juniors Katie Layman, Bri Radtke and Julia Schultz. Radtke will return to the the starting point guard position where she flourished last season, scoring 6.6 points, distributing 3.7 assists and grabbing 4.0 rebounds per game. Nelson and Schultz are both coming off solid seasons at wings, where they averaged 8.7 and 5.4 points per game, and 3 and 4.4 rebounds per game, respectively.
Layman will be the main force on the inside this season, hoping to improve on her numbers after contributing 8.8 points per game and 3.7 rebounds per game last season.
Depth at the guard position will be provided by Junior Amber Steffenhagen, Sophomore Kirsten Prunty and First-year Colleen Ruane. Sophomores Molly Mathiowetz and Brittany Holm made significant contributions to the team last season, and they will continue to provide their services at the forward position. Sophomores Nadvia Davis and Margeaux Demmer, as well as First-year Molly Geske, are all likely candidates to help out at forward. First-years Megan Gaard, Cassie Hulber and Ava Perry round out the forward position.
The women’s basketball team has already competed in a scrimmage as well as an exhibition game. Nelson saw these two preseason competitions as opportunities to improve, “We have definitely been using those games to help tweak things on offense and defense,” she said.
The Gusties plan on having a fast-paced offensive style of play, with guards and forwards alike who are capable of handling the ball, hoping to push the ball up the floor.
Their emphasis on defensive aggressiveness and rebounding will complement their up-tempo offensive mindset, likely leading to easy transition baskets. If all goes as planned, the team believes they have it has a legitimate opportunity to compete for one of the top spots in the MIAC, and eventually a shot at the title.
“On the court, rebounding will be one of the biggest keys to having a successful season.
“We aren’t the biggest team in the MIAC, and rebounding has always been one of our weaker areas,” said Schultz. “If we can get stops defensively and limit other teams to only one shot, that will be huge. We’ve been doing a lot of rebounding drills in practice, so it will be fun to see how much of it will carry over to the games.”
The Gusties will start up their regular season play November 28 and 29 at the Southwestern University Thanksgiving Tournament in Sherman, Texas. The Gusties’ MIAC play will begin Dec. 3, 2008, against Carleton at Gus Young Court.
“I know it is only the beginning of the season, but this year’s team has the best chemistry of any team I have every been a part of—not only the players but the coaching staff as well,” said Radtke. “We have all the pieces to be one of the best women’s basketball teams GAC has ever seen; we just need to put all those pieces together and continue to grow every day.”