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Caden Sierra
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Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Women’s hoops adds four players

It’s been three seasons since the NMU women’s basketball team reached the GLIAC tournament, the ‘Cats improved by three wins from head coach Troy Mattson’s first and second seasons and last year Northern was just three wins from reaching the post-season. Hoping that the third time around is the charm, Mattson is counting on a trio of talented guards from around the Midwest, coupled with the 2007 U.P. Player of the Year to bolster his squad and help them take the next step.

Guards Steffani Stoeger from Appleton, Wis., Hillary Bowling from Greenwood, Ind. and Kelly Rietveld from New Lenox, Ill. will join Marquette Senior High center Erin Power as newcomers on the 2007-08 Wildcat squad.

“The three guards are extremely athletic. They can jump, they get after it on defense, they’re leaders and they’re everything I was looking for in players,” Mattson said. “They can do it all. They drive left, they drive right, they pull up and shoot, they can take it to the basket and they can make three’s when they’re open.”

The guards will hopefully be able to contribute early on, giving the team enough depth to move junior Kelsey Deacon over to her natural position of shooting-guard, Mattson said. Deacon has averaged nearly 35 minutes a night, starting the past 40 games at the point-guard spot.

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Stoegger, a 5-foot-7-inch guard who played at Fox Valley Lutheran High School, is one of the players Mattson said he envisions seeing a lot of playing time early on. She was a three-time first-team all-conference selection and was named the Post Crescent Player of the Year as a senior. She also averaged a school-record 18.4 points per game her junior year and was an AP and Wisconsin Basketball Association honorable mention all-state selection this year.

“There are a couple of them that have a chance of being seen on the court early and Steffani Stoeger was recruited to play right away,” Mattson said. “Her and (sophomore guard) Natalie Larocque will determine who starts and who finishes games and things like that.”

Bowling is a 5-foot-10-inch guard from Center Grove High School, who averaged 12 points, six rebounds and three assists on her way to first-team all-county and all-conference accolades last season.

“I definitely think all of these recruits can make an immediate impact,” senior forward Allison Carroll said. “We’re bringing in a couple of good people and I don’t think it’s out of the freshmen’s reach to make an impact right when they come in.”

Carroll knows all about making an immediate impact, considering she started 27 games as a freshman, averaging 11.2 points and 5.9 rebounds.

The third guard added to the roster, the 5-foot-7-inch Rietveld, averaged 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals for Lincoln-Way Central High School as a senior.

Mattson said that like the other two new guards, she is tough and extremely athletic, which should make the transition to Division-II relatively easy for her. Rietveld’s athletic accomplishment’s stretch beyond the hardwood, however, as she finished fourth in the 17-year-old-division of the Chicago Marathon last year.

“The three guards can do it all, it’s just a matter of when they’re going to be able to give us major production and I think it’ll be soon,” Mattson said. “It’s just a matter of time before those three blossom at our level. When will it happen? I don’t know, it might happen for us right away. I hope they can pick up the system quick and just do it because they have the physical and mental attributes we were looking for, as well as the intangible of being leaders and tough people.”

Carroll said that if the guards work hard in the off-season and live up to their potential, they would greatly help the team as they try to improve on last season’s 9-18 record.

“When we have practices and play together I’ll try to beat up on the freshmen to let them know they need to get tougher and it helps them learn how to finish shots in game situations,” she said.

One of the players she’ll more than likely be banging bodies with at practice is the fourth newcomer, Powers, who at 6-foot-1-inch will help solidify the Wildcats inside game. She averaged 11.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game this season and she was a fourth-team all-state selection in Class A for MSHS.

“She rebounds the ball very well, she’s a very smart defender and she handles and passes the ball great for a center. She can even lead the fast break at times,” Mattson said. “One area Erin needs to work on is her ability to score around big people and she’ll learn over the years, but there’s still a level adjustment because she hasn’t had to play against many big people before.”

Mattson said that while the ‘Cats’ post presence is already well established with junior Cassi Rushford and senior Cassie Hegbloom, there is playing time available for Erin depending on how quickly she develops. He also said that Powers reminds him a lot of sophomore center Angie Leckson, who Powers is good friends with.

Mattson said he hopes to bring the total recruiting class to six or seven athletes within the next few weeks.

“I have one coming in this weekend that I think I have a good chance at and we have a couple of girls in walk-on situations that I know are pretty good basketball players and very athletic, so we’re going to take a close look at them over the next few weeks,” he said.

This recruiting class marks the first time that Mattson has had an entire year to focus on players since he was hired, because he was hired deep into the 2005 off-season and had to deal with a number of players leaving following that year.

“I told Ken Godfrey this is the hardest I’ve worked in 22 years of recruiting,” he said. “I felt like we needed to do it and I spent the time and put the effort in and I’m just happy. Things always look good on paper before you get started, but I think we did our homework on these four people and they will produce at a high level.”

Carroll said Mattson has been a hard worker from day-one and the team tries to mirror that.

“I love the recruits he’s brought in for this next year and the recruits from last year even have helped us move at least one space from the bottom of the conference,” she said. “We have gotten so much better under Troy it’s ridiculous.”

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