Women’s basketball 2019-2020 season preview

Courtesy Photo/UNI Athletics

COLIN HORNING, Sports Writer

Coming off of last year’s first-round defeat in the women’s National Invitational Tournament, the UNI women’s basketball team returns a strong core of key players as well as a talented group of young players going into the 2019-20 season.

“Overall, practices have been going very well,” head coach Tanya Warren said. “We’ve done a lot of teaching, and I’m very pleased with the competitiveness.”

Four of last year’s five starters are returning this season, including redshirt junior center Megan Maahs, who suffered a season-ending injury eight games into last season.

Maahs, who earned first-team all Missouri Valley Conference, MVC all-defensive team and MVC all-tournament team during the 2017-18 season, looks to give the Panthers a strong presence on the inside.

Also returning in the starting lineup are junior guards Karli Rucker and Nicole Kroeger, junior forward Bre Gunnels and senior guard Rose Simon-Ressler.

Last season was a breakout year for Rucker as she earned first-team all MVC in her first full year as the starting point guard for Northern Iowa.

The early-season schedule has some tough matchups, including games at Wichita State and the University of Missouri, as well as at home against the University of Iowa on Nov. 17.

The Panthers will also travel to Las Vegas near the end of November for the South Point Shootout, facing Alabama and Ohio State.

Coach Warren is heading into her 13th season at the helm for the Panthers. As the all-time winningest women’s basketball coach in UNI history, Warren is looking for another strong season.

“I really like how well our young women are communicating,” Warren said.  “Our attention to detail isn’t where I’d like it to be, nor should it be at this point in the season. But overall, I’m very pleased with our effort going into the start of the season.”