Nanook Women’s Basketball gears up for season
By Aaron Walling
Nine wins, 17 losses. That was the record of last years UAF women’s basketball team. Some people would say that there needs to be improvement, that the coach needs to find better ways to utilize her team. However she finds optimism with this team.
In basketball you want cohesiveness, your players to work together, to trust each other. Through that comes experience, and with 10 returning players including all five starters from last year it allows the right culture to grow in the locker room. In an interview with Coach Cody Bench, she described the feeling of having the core group stay together.
“It makes a difference when you have a really solid group of young ladies that know your program, that know the expectations, that know our system.”
The Nanooks will have forward Jordan Wilson returning who was Freshman of the Year for the Great Northwest Athletic Conference last season. Wilson, from Henderson, Colorado, produced at a high level, averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds a game. She is going to be a key component to this Nanook squad for the upcoming season if they want to get out of the cellar of a tough GNAC table.
Jordan isn’t the only young player on this roster with potential to contribute at a high level either. Kailee Skjold was a freshman last year and was on fire the last half of the season playing her way into the starting lineup for the Nanooks. She scored 7.7 points and grabbed 4.6 rebounds per game. Skjold brings a different level of intensity when she enters the game, scoring points with ease, grabbing high rebounds over girls much taller than she is at 5 feet 11 inches, and using every ounce of energy on defense to disrupt her opponents.
“The area that we need to improve on the most is our defense,” said Coach Bench.
Additions of players like freshman Daron Mainville, Heather Heild, and Junior Stephanie Toumson, who are all above the height of 5’11,’’ will add some strength on the defensive side of the ball.
The way they want to improve on the defense is to cause more turnovers, limit shots in the paint, and lower their opponents scoring offense. That was a glaring mistake last year for the Nanooks as they had the worst scoring defense in the GNAC, 10th place, allowing 73.9 points per game. They also allowed opponents to shoot a 41.1 field goal percentage which was 9th in the GNAC, if you want to win games you need to lower the opponent’s offensive production by reducing their FG percentage. However, one of the bright spots on this defense was the top 3 finish in the steal category with 9.7 steal per game.