Women’s team opens at UM

By Carl Ackerman

To become a quality team one must play quality teams, and that is exactly what the NIU women’s basketball team will do tonight in its opening game at Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers have jumped out to an early 2-0 record after winning last weekend’s Oklahoma Sooner Thanksgiving Classic, but the Huskies are looking to break up UM’s winning streak at the 7 p.m. match. However, NIU coach Jane Albright believes this will not be easy.

“They have a good inside and outside attack,” said Albright. “They are good with three-pointers and have an exceptionally good post player (Sue Renner).

“I think we’ll be able to win the game. For our defense, it will be a real test. (UM) has really deliberate hard workers. They are a very, very well coached team,” added Albright.

Last season, the Huskies buried the Golden Gophers into the ground with a 104-75 pounding. UM, which leads NIU in the series 2-1, finished last season with a dismal 7-21 record compared to NIU’s 23-7 mark, but Albright expects this year to be different.

“We’ll be looking at a confident team compared to last year,” said Albright. “They’re an extremely fundamental team. They’re a team-orientated group. Nobody is going to dominate.”

UM will look to junior Ellen Kramer, who averaged 13 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season. Seniors Jennifer Hall (13 ppg 5.1 rpg) and Renner (7 ppg, 4.9 rpg) will also lead the Gopher attack.

The Huskies will be led by pre-season MVP Carol Owens, who averaged 21.1 ppg and 9.8 rpg plus 83 blocked shots last season. Tammy Hinchee, who averaged 19.5 ppg and 8.7 rpg along with 84 blocks, has been given a pre-season All-Conference award. Other key returners and expected starters include Kris Weis, Denise Dove and Lisa Foss.

“I think we’re very ready for it (the game) both mentally and physically,” said Albright. “We’re just going to have to stick to what we do best (run and use a pressure-defense). I think the teams are really similar. Our game plan is to pressure them. That’s our lifeline.

“One of the best things about playing Minnesota at Minnesota is that it is a chance for us to play in Denise Dove’s (New Hope, MN/Armstrong) backyard in front of her family and friends,” added Albright.