The Gustavus women’s basketball team will open its 2009-10 season on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm against Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Coach Mickey Haller welcomes a veteran team back for the season including all-conference senior point guard Bri Radtke. The Gusties will have their hands full with an Augustana squad that finished 20-10 overall last season and fourth in the NSIC with a 13-7 mark. The Vikings are currently 1-0 after defeating the University of Sioux Falls 85-55 on Wednesday night. You can watch the game and follow live stats through the Augustana website.
Gustavus Season Preview
The Gustavus women’s basketball team entered the 2008-09 season with a good mix of talent and depth, but lacked some competitive experience as a result of having only one senior (Emily Nelson) on the squad. This season, however, Head Coach Mickey Haller has the luxury of building around 11 returning letterwinners that gained valuable experience a year ago, while posting a record of 16-10 overall and finishing fourth in the MIAC with a record of 14-8. Haller’s squad will be led by its four returning starters, senior point guard Bri Radtke (Winsted, Minn./Lester Prairie), senior post Katie Layman (Hudson, Wis.), senior forward Julia Schultz (Marshall, Minn.), and sophomore wing Molly Geske (Mendota Heights, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall).
On the perimeter, the Gusties will need to replace all-conference shooting guard Emily Nelson (10.5 points per game), but return seven players who were all part of the regular playing rotation last season. Anchoring this perimeter group will be All-Conference point guard Bri Radtke, who averaged 9.8 points per game and ranked fourth in the league in assists with an average of 3.5 per game. Radtke is the prototypical point guard who can run the floor, penetrate, pass, and shoot the three. She has started every game for the Gusties for the past four years and is capable of making the big plays in the big games. Complimenting Radtke will be sophomore Molly Geske, who will play the #2 position and senior Julia Schultz, who will play the #3 position. Geske, who was named to the MIAC All-First Year Team last season, averaged 10.3 points per game and finished second in the MIAC in three-point field goal percentage at 41.3 percent. Schultz is a solid all-around player who can play both inside and out. She averaged 7.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game a year ago. Providing depth behind that trio will be senior Amber Steffenhagen (Lake City, Minn.) and sophomore Ava Perry (Wabasha, Minn.) at the #2 spot, sophomore Megan Gaard (Edina, Minn.) at the #3 position, and sophomore Colleen Ruane (Edina, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret) at point guard. All four players played significant minutes in reserve roles last season and will move into the regular playing rotation this season. Sophomore Liz Shay (Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn) and first year Steph Comer (Minnetonka, Minn.) are also expected to contribute.
In the post, Coach Haller is fortunate to have three key returners and one talented newcomer. That group includes senior Katie Layman, juniors Molly Mathiowetz and Brittany Holm and first year Abby Rothenbuehler. Layman (6-0) and Rothenbuehler (6-2) will rotate at the #4 position, while Holm (6-1) and Mathiowetz (6-0) give the Gusties a strong duo at the #5 position. Layman, who has started every game for the Gusties for the past three seasons, averaged 7.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last year, while Rothenbuehler is an athletic newcomer who earned All-Conference honors at Mankato West last year. Mathiowetz was instant offense off the bench last season scoring 8.1 points per game, while also grabbing 4.4 boards per game. She is an excellent rebounder who can also get out and lead the break when necessary. Holm is a shot blocker, who can also run the floor.
The past two seasons, the Gusties have finished third and fourth, respectively in MIAC regular season play, while also qualifying for the MIAC Playoffs, but the team has just missed contending for the regular season league title or advancing to the MIAC Playoff Championship game. Mickey Haller and her squad are hoping the experienced gained with a young group last season will lead to a title run this season.