Huskies thrive under first-year coach and NIU alumna Owens

By Andrew Hanson

The 2005-06 season for the NIU women’s basketball was a learning experience for both the players and the coach.

Coach and NIU alumna Carol Owens said she learned how to be a head coach in her first year after serving as an assistant for Notre Dame for 10 seasons.

“[Being a head coach] you make final decisions that affect every aspect of the program,” Owens said.

The players learned how to take orders from a new coach.

“It was exciting,” senior center Jennifer Uptmor said. “It was a good experience even though I only got to experience it for one year.”

Owens said her team didn’t have any troubles with its new coach.

“The team did a great job transitioning from one coach to another,” Owens said.

The transition went smoothly as the Huskies upped their win total by five, including three conference wins, finishing with a record of 12-17 overall and 7-9 in the MAC.

The previous season, NIU had an overall record of 7-21 and a conference record of 4-12.

Going 7-9 in the conference was enough for the Huskies to earn the fourth seed in the MAC West division of the conference tournament and ensured a first-round home game for the MAC tournament.

A win against Miami in the first round helped NIU obtain a goal that Uptmor said the team set out at the beginning of the season: Make it to Cleveland to the MAC championships. It was the first time in four seasons that the Huskies went to Cleveland.

NIU fell to MAC Champion Bowling Green in the quarterfinals, ending its season.

In a Feb. 11 game against Kent State, junior guard Stephanie Raymond became the 22nd Huskie to score 1,000 points in her career.

Despite missing two games due to injury, Raymond led the way for NIU. The second team All-MAC selection was fifth in the MAC in both scoring and assists, averaging 16.4 points and 4.4 assists per game.

Also receiving conference recognition was junior forward Kristin Wiener, who was named an All-MAC Honorable Mention.

Owens said the future of NIU women’s basketball is very bright. NIU is returning three starters in Raymond, Wiener and junior guard Mary Basic.

Also returning next season are freshman guard Jessie Wilcox and sophomore forward Whitney Lowe.

“We’ve built the foundation for the future,” Owens said. “They are ready to start on next year now.”