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Majority of women’s basketball team returns this season

November 7, 2014

Last season was a rebuilding year for the UW-River Falls women’s basketball program after finishing 6-19 overall and eighth in the WIAC.

This was due to the fact that the team had only five returning players, which included one senior, leaving the majority of the team freshman.

Junior captain Richell Mehus is defended by a UW-Eau Claire guard in a 66-61 double overtime victory on Jan. 8, at the Karges Center.
Junior captain Richell Mehus is defended by a UW-Eau Claire guard in a 66-61 double overtime victory on Jan. 8, at the Karges Center. The women’s basketball team will play its first game against University of Wisconsin in Madison on Nov. 9. (Kathy M. Helgeson/University Communications)

The Falcons will be a more seasoned team this season with the majority of the players returning, five new players and the return of junior guard Jessie Van Wyhe, who missed last season due to a knee injury. After last season’s finish, the team’s goal is to finish over .500 and make the NCAA tournament.

This season will be Head Coach Cindy Holbrook’s 15th season as the head coach of the UWRF women’s basketball team. Last season was the first time in her career that she finished with less than eight wins, finishing with only six.

The inexperience from the freshman last season played a part in the team’s success, as they weren’t use to the speed of collegiate basketball compared to the high school level. This season the team will be more experienced with almost the entire freshman class returning to the team.

The experience from last season will play a big role, as the team should look like a completely new team. Assistant Coach Mike Babler believes the team is ready after the inexperience from last season.

“We had a lot of young kids last year, they got a lot of experience,” Babler said. “So toward the end of the year we really saw that experience really come to fruition. They worked hard over the summer, they look good right now and I think it’ s going to be an exciting season for us.”

The team will be without All-WIAC Honorable Mention Tess Lueders, who graduated after last season. This year, junior captain guard Richell Mehus will be the one to help lead the Falcons. Mehus led the team last season averaging close to 10 points per game.

The team will also be leaning on Van Wyhe. In her sophomore season back in 2012-13, she started in all 26 games for the Falcons next to senior Brittany Gregorich. Van Wyhe averaged 7.4 points per game, with 193 points on the year and 42 steals.

Behind Mehus and Van Wyhe, the team has many sophomores that will step up and become large contributors during the season.

With last season in the books, the team will look to its strengths from last season to continue toward success for this season. In an email interview with junior captain Richell Mehus, speed was the advantage last season and she wants to use that this year.

“We have some quick guards. We will try to use this quickness to our advantage and then slow down and make defenses break down at other times,” Mehus said. “We have a lot of players that can score, so we just need to create opportunities to get them the ball. Our posts have also improved their game and will be threats to score.”

Mehus also said that this year the Falcons will try to be smart players. They want to utilize the ball fake to get defenses to shift and moving the ball around to get a higher shot percentage.

The Falcons will start the season off with seven non-conference matches, which will include a tournament at the College of St. Benedict, and an exhibition match-up against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison on Sunday, Nov. 9.

After finishing eighth in the WIAC with a 4-12 record, the Falcons get its first shot at a conference team at home on Wednesday, Dec. 3 against UW-Superior. The Falcons first home game of the season is at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22.