#32 Northern Iowa Women's Basketball Preview

Northern Iowa Panthers

Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #1 Missouri Valley
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The quest for another Missouri Valley Conference championship and a run to the NCAA tournament took a very difficult turn recently when reigning MVC player of the year Jacqui Kalin was declared out for the season with an ACL injury. However, there is still plenty of talent on hand at Northern Iowa and if they can secure an automatic NCAA bid by winning the Missouri Valley Conference, they have a good chance of playing rounds 1 and 2 in Des Moines. Last season was a fantastic run. The Panthers had a 19 game winning streak and took number four seed Michigan State down to the wire narrowly losing 69-66. However, that game made another strong statement for mid-majors by closing the gap on the elite BCS schools in Women’s College Basketball.

2010-11: 27-6, 17-1
2010-11 postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tanya Warren (68-58 at Northern Iowa, 68-58 overall)

Who’s Out:
Kalin being out for the season is a huge blow as she led Northern Iowa in points and assists last season. Lizzie Boeck also departs and she was the other double figure scorer for the Panthers at 13.2 points per contest. Replacing nearly 30 points a game will be a challenge offensively.

Who’s In:
A six player freshman class, led by Amber Sorenson, will be counted on to step up a lot more in the wake of the injury to Kalin. Look for potential major contributions from redshirt freshman Brooke Brown, incoming freshmen guards Brittni Donaldson and Stephanie Davison to compete for more playing time as well.
Redshirt freshman center Amanda Barton, 6-2 out of the state of Minnesota, will be counted on as well to provide a fresh post presence down low.

Who to Watch:
Senior guard Katelin Oney and Rachel Madrigal will be counted on quite heavily to anchor the Panther’s three guard offense. They both started every game last season so their durability is definitely not in question but offensively they will need to step up their scoring and ball handling to keep the Northern Iowa offense running smoothly. Senior K.K. Armstrong, who was an ace off the bench last season, will move into the starting lineup with the Kalin injury and combined with Olney and Madrigal, will provide a very experienced backcourt that should stabilize everything with a younger frontline for the Panthers this season.

Final Projection:
Dealing with adversity in regard to injuries in the preseason is never easy but in mid major programs like Northern Iowa, this is where player development comes into play and the ability to redshirt freshman players if need be. These schools don’t get the McDonald’s or Parade All American players most years, so building a deep team becomes absolutely essential to long term success. Also, a senior laden team like this year’s edition of the Panther squad has a much better capacity to withstand major injuries like Kalin’s.  Look for the Panthers to still find a way to win the MVC this season. It just won’t be a dominating 17-1, maybe along the lines of say 14-15 conference wins with the rest of the team stepping up to their level of play for Coach Warren’s squad.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

Projected Starting Five:
Katelin Oney, Senior, Guard, 9.7 PPG
Rachel Madrigal, Senior, Guard, 7.8 PPG
K.K. Armstrong, Senior, Guard, 8.8 PPG
Amber Sorenson, Freshman, Forward, DNP Last season
Amber Kirschbaum, Junior, Forward, 5.5 PPG