Women’s Basketball poised for a promising season


KEVIN DEITRICK, Sports Columnist

The 2014-2015 season was a bittersweet year for UNI’s women’s basketball team. A year that saw them go a disappointing 17-15. But they also had a fantastic record in the Missouri Valley Conference, going 12-6. UNI is returning four of last years’ starters and four of their top five scorers from a year ago, led by Madison Weekly, who averaged almost 14 points a game for the Panthers. The team is poised for a breakout season with their core players and are picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Conference this year.

Last year, they proved to be a conference power, and it looks to be the same this year. But if they want to reach the next level, they must win their key non-conference games. The first major test will be against the South Dakota Coyotes, a team that had a record of 26-8, and beat the Panthers, 77-85.

The game will be in the McLeod Center on Nov. 17.

The second test will be at home against Iowa on Nov. 22. The Iowa Hawkeyes went 26-8 a year ago and finished the year ranked 11th in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Playing in Carver-Hawkeye Arena last year, UNI endured a tough loss, falling 73-45. After returning from Mexico, they faced the Iowa State Cyclones. ISU finished last year, 18-13, and made the NCAA tournament. Playing at the Mcleod Center, where the Panthers were 10-5 a year ago, can and should win this game. Granted, the Cyclones are good, but the Panthers are a new team at home.

South Dakota, Iowa and Iowa State are very good teams. But the thing is, all of these matchups are are at home this season. If the support of the Panther faithful can show out, I believe we can make three big upsets, which will provide a ton of momentum going into conference play. Even if the Panthers go 12-6 in the conference again this year, their record will drastically change from 17-15, to an impressive 20-12, not to mention in-state bragging rights.

  After looking at some of the key non conference games, lets take a look at some of the competition in the MVC. Who is standing in the Panthers’ way of finishing on top?

Missouri State is poised for a breakout year after finishing, 13-5, in the conference. Drake had a very good year, going 20-10 overall, and 15-3 in the conference. Wichita State finished on top, going 17-1, with an overall record of 29-4. After losing key players, the Shockers are picked to finish fifth.

Southern Illinois is another team that should have a solid year and is picked to finish fourth after going 10-8 in the conference a year ago. These are the teams that UNI will have to beat, aside from the bottom five teams that all had sub .500 conference records, to have a chance at finishing in first place.

Like I mentioned earlier, UNI has four of their top five scorers returning this year. Not only do they bring back their mad basketball skills but also very valuable experience. As a team, they are very talented. But they do have aspects of the game they need to work on.

In team field goal percentage, they were sixth a year ago, making 38 percent of their shots. Also, something they must improve on is rebounding on both sides of the ball. They average only 36 rebounds per game, which is good for eighth, and allow an average of 40 rebounds per game to their opponents, which is also eighth in the conference.

The 2014-2015 UNI Women’s College Basketball team has all the pieces they need to make a huge impact. They just need to get behind coach Tanya Warren and her staff and play to their potential.

In the wise words of the late Al Davis, “Just win baby, win.”