HOUGHTON - Things got complicated down the stretch for the Michigan Tech women's basketballl team.
But despite a series of injuries late in the 2012-13 season, the Huskies still finished 21-9 and their only losses over the last six weeks were road games at Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference North Division champion Wayne State and two at eventual GLIAC Tournament and national champion Ashland.
In part two of a Q-and-A with coach Kim Cameron, she explains how the Huskies persevered to get through their problems late in the season and how they can build off what they learned down the stretch to prepare for 2013-14.
Michigan Tech’s Emily Harrison puts a shot up in the first half of a game against Northwood Feb. 21. Harrison’s improvement down the stretch gave the Huskies a boost in the second half of the season. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Q: The team was hit hard by injuries at the end of the year. By the GLIAC Tournament, Michelle Gaedke, Taylor Stippel, Mackenzie Perttu and Kate Glodowski were all sidelined with pretty serious looking leg injuries. What is the status of each for next season?
Cameron: You're right, we were hit hard. That bench started getting pretty small. Gaedke and Stippel will both be rehabbing over the summer, so we will see when we can expect them based on how that goes.
Kate is on her way back. She has had some very intense surgeries (for a foot injury) and she has had a long recovery period but she is coming back in a great way. She is just starting, so she will have the summer to get ready.
And for Kenzie, hopefully she will be fully recovered by the summer to work out over the break.
Q: You anticipated having Glodowski available this past season, right?
Cameron: It was a high hope, but it didn't work out that way.
Q: The last two years, whenever you needed a big bucket down the stretch, Sam (Hoyt) was the one the team went to. Can Kenzie step into that role on the perimeter now?
Cameron: I guess I hope so. Kenzie was a very obvious freshman this year. She didn't start, she started. She was GLIAC Player of the Week, and then she played five minutes in the next game. It was just a little bit of a rollercoaster. I thought right before her injury that she was really ready to make the push to be a big time player in the league. That being said, she hadn't done that quite yet. But is she capable? There is no question.
Q: Was Kylie Moxley another one who experienced a very "freshman" season?
Cameron: That is being a freshman and the post position. You are really good against some people because you can outsmart them or you are stronger, but then you get some people you haven't faced before and they just kind of have your number. But I think for the responsibility that Kylie was given throughout the year - the significance put on her points and her defense - she was pretty awesome. I mean, how many times did she stay after practice working on her left hand? She really has a drive to be really good.
Q: What does Moxley have to do to be a consistent threat every night, not just some games?
Cameron: She just has to take everything she went through this year and put it all together in her head. She needs to work on moves and counter-moves. She is really good right - now she needs to be perfect right. And then she has to be able to be good left. That is going to be really important.
Q: Emily Harrison came on at the end of the year as a consistent performer off the bench. Are you finally seeing the fruits of the labor of a long-term project?
Cameron: No matter what we did with Emily I think it was going to take three years for her to even be comfortable in her own body. I think we are finally at that point. There was a time where she couldn't even stand on two feet. And now she has mentally taken the next step to be great. I think we are going to see a lot of really, really good things from her in the next two years here.
Q: Is the key for Emily to not be satisfied then? Cracking the rotation can't be enough, right?
Cameron: We are depending on her and relying on her. She knows that and knows what is available.
Q: Jillian Ritchie seemed to have a breakthrough offensively midseason. She shot 46 percent from three and her scoring became a staple not a bonus. Will she have to take that even farther next year as the most experienced starter, despite being just a junior?
Cameron: She was standout the last part of the year. She just kept breaking her career high, over and over. Every game it seemed she had a new career high. She is ready for a bigger offensive load. Her freshman year it was an emphasis on her defense and rebounding, where she was so productive. And this year she understands she has more freedom offensively and she can do more things. She really got her shot together this year. We really started to count on her. It takes so much pressure off of Kylie and Kenzie to have another shooter on the floor.
Q: Is there any worry for team chemistry or unity when you have seniors who right now project to be behind sophomores in the pecking order?
Cameron: I don't think right now that anybody is in front or behind anyone. I think above anything right now there is a clean playing field. Summer is really important for every kid and whoever makes the most of it is who you will see next year. There is a lot of pride in the seniors who are here. They understand the program and the tradition. If there is anyone who will demand that things are done right, it will be that group of people. We expect that.
Q: For different stretches this past year, Taylor Stippel, Paige Albi and Kelcey Traynoff saw their playing time fluctuate quite a bit - you don't see any clashing because of that if that situation were to occur again in their senior years?
Cameron: I think we are really lucky that we have players who are in it for the success of the program. They want to do what is best for the program, whatever that may be. Things get competitive, but they want what is best for the team.