Coach Carlsen sets bar high for women's basketball, Woods '100-percent' ready to play

Senior guard Mikayla Voigt drives to the net Nov. 28 during a home match against South Dakota State University at the Convocation Center.

DeKALB — Head Coach Lisa Carlsen took the podium Wednesday for NIU's Winter Sports Media Day. Early into her speech, she let the audience know her expectations for the women’s basketball team this year. 

“Every year our goals don’t change,” Carlsen said. “We’re all chasing the MAC championship. We are all chasing the opportunity to play at the NCAA level.”

Carlsen said there are three areas a team must have in order to be competitive and successful. Talent, culture, and game planning are the areas that Carlsen believes will keep the Huskies competitive.

“When you put these three things together, I think you have a recipe for success,” Carlsen said. “I’m not going to stand up here and tell you we don't have huge expectations for this team.”

The Huskies won 19 games last year despite multiple injuries. Redshirt senior guard Courtney Woods, junior guard Erin Hodges and redshirt sophomore Janae Poisson, among others, suffered injuries that kept them sidelined for extended periods of time.

“We have ten [returning] juniors and seniors,” Carlsen said. “Of those ten, nine of them at some point started a game for us. You look at the competitiveness of the league, [teams] have to have people who have gone through it.”

Woods said she will be available at the beginning of the season after tearing her ACL seven games into the 2018-19 season. In her short appearance last season, Woods averaged 20 points per game including a career-high 38 points, Nov. 8 against Yale University at the Convocation Center. In 2017-2018, Woods averaged a league-leading 22 points per game, third in NIU history.

“I'm 100 percent healthy; I have been 100 percent healthy for about two months,” Woods said.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the way she has gone about her business and preparation for what proves to be a really good year. She looks like the Courtney of old,” Carlsen said.

Hodges will take medical redshirt leave to prepare for her pending knee surgery, while Poisson will be working and rehabbing to come back from an ACL re-tear, according to Carlsen.

The Huskies will also need to learn how to deal with losing their 2019 leading scorer Mikayla Voigt. Voigt graduated last spring ranked fifth on the NIU all-time scoring list and was placed on the All-MAC second team. Carlsen said the team has big shoes to fill after Voigt’s departure.

With added depth the Huskies will look to continue to climb until they reach the final goal of a MAC championship. Their first game will be an exhibition game 6 p.m Tuesday Oct. 29  against Judson University at the Convocation Center.

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