GRAND FORKS, N.D. - With a 21-11 record, a Great West Conference Tournament title and a trip to the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI), the 2011-12 North Dakota women's basketball team registered the most successful season for the Fighting Sioux since starting the transition to Division I in 2008.
But rather than sit back and relish in the success, the Sioux quickly returned to the court and the weight room to begin preparations for the 2012-13 season and their Big Sky Conference debut.
"We already started building for the 2012-13 season because as you know, basketball never stops," incoming head coach Travis Brewster said. "The expectations that these ladies need to fulfill have been expressed to them clearly, and they have all agreed that they are willing to put in the time and effort to accomplish them together."
One of the largest changes that the Sioux are preparing for is the shift from the Great West to the Big Sky. While the new league affiliation will provide UND with a more lengthy conference schedule it will also pit the team against higher-profile opponents and stiffer competition.
"As a member of the Big Sky Conference we will have new challenges ahead of us. For example, our conference schedule will consist of 20 games rather than 10 games as we had in the Great West. That means that intensity and sustained focus will be a priority. Each win counts for so much in conference standings as one slip could cost us an opportunity to host the Big Sky tournament down the road."
Last year the Sioux finished the season shooting 39.3 percent from the field, 29.8 percent from three-point range, and 70 percent from the free throw line. For Coach Brewster, that left the team with a lot of room for improvement.
"This spring, the emphasis was on making more shots and not just shooting to shoot," Brewster said. "I wanted the players to have a 'maker of shots' mindset and I saw some great changes for the better. The players are also focused on improving their ball handling skills and passing this summer. They won't have the opportunity to work with the coaching staff, so it will be on them to keep one another focused."
While the team will have to work on the fundamentals away from the watchful eyes of the coaches, their strength and agility workouts will be monitored by the strength and conditioning staff.
"Improved strength will be a necessity in order for us to compete at a high level in the Big Sky as I feel there is a strong correlation between success on the floor and summertime strength and conditioning," Brewster said. "Director of Strength and Conditioning Nate Baukol created a blue print for success in the weight room and we have already seen marked improvements. Many of the players have already established new personal records."
Both players and staff will take a break from their summertime routines to host a number of camps during the months of June, July and August. For more information regarding these camps and others offered by UND, visit FightingSioux.com/Camps.
- Go Sioux -