The 2013-2014 UW-River Falls Falcons women’s basketball team comes into this season with 12 freshmen and only one senior on its roster.
“I think that being the only senior, there have been a lot of people looking at me to be a leader on this team,” said senior Tess Lueders. “I think it is a role that I naturally and easily fit into. It helps that I have such a great group of young ladies to work with.”
Sophomore Richell Mehus agreed that the team will be leaning on Lueders this season. “The team is looking to Tess as a leader; she has been here four years and is very experienced. She knows the game and it will be important for her to share her knowledge to the rest of the team, especially the incoming freshmen new to college ball.”
Lueders and Mehus, along with Kristi Elles, are the captains of the team this year. Mehus said that it will be on all of the returners to put themselves in a leadership position and help the freshman come in and adjust to college basketball.
“We really like our freshman class. They are a nice complement to our older players, are athletic and spunky, said Head Coach Cindy Holbrook. “It makes it challenging but fun.”
Holbrook is entering her 14th year as the women’s basketball coach at UWRF and is only 12 victories away from her 200th career win.
UWRF is predicted to finish seventh this season in the WIAC, according to wiacsports.com. When asked where her goal for the team to finish in the WIAC was Holbrook said, “Not seventh, I do not think we are a seventh place team, and have not been a seventh place team for a long time. Top to bottom our conference is separated by maybe 10 points, but most of the teams on paper on any given night are only separated by four points. Predictions are nice but I do not care where we are ranked and I do not think our players care either.”
“I think a team goal of ours it to finish strong in our conference. Though we may be a young team we have a lot of potential and talent, I think we are definitely capable, with a lot of hard work, to win the conference championship,” Lueders said.
One challenge UWRF will face early is playing seven out of its first nine games on the road. “We have to grow sometime so it might as well be right away,” Holbrook said. “I am not sure freshman totally understand difference between road and home games right away anyway. To be a good team you have to be able to steal some games on the road and I think we can do that.”
Stealing some wins on the road is something that will be important for the Falcons. Once at home, history shows it should be a bit easier for them as they have put together one of the best home records in the WIAC the past five seasons with a 45-13 record at the Karges Center, according to wiacsports.com.
Mehus echoed her coach. “Road games are very important in our schedule and we will battle each of those games to try to get as many wins as possible. After the streak of away games, it will be nice to get a win (at home) in Karges.”
One area where road games will be different this year for all WIAC teams is the men and women teams will no longer be traveling together to play double headers like in years past. Holbrook said this will be an advantage for the team to be able to eat at appropriate times for the women’s games and to be able to leave right away after their games, but that she will miss seeing the men’s team play.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we won’t be seeing as many of their games this year as we have in the past. It was nice being able support each other, and to have a little ‘student section’ when we went on away games,” Lueders said.
The Falcons will play their first games Nov. 15, and Nov. 16, at the UW-Eau Claire Tip-Off classic against Luther College and Carroll University, respectively.
“We have a lot of young talented players across the board and are going to be really exciting to watch this year,” Holbrook said.
“Each season it is fun getting to spend so much time with girls that love the game just as much as I do.” Mehus said. “I am excited to see how our team changes throughout the season and see how much we grow individually and as a team.”