Fresh Faces Lead Women's Basketball in IIAC Title Defense

Nov 16, 2015

The Spartans are led by a bevy of fresh faces as they prepare to defend their Iowa Conference title. Photo by Eric Nie

University of Dubuque Spartans
Head Coach: Mark Noll (8th season, 118-93, .559)
Last Year: (17-9, 11-3, IIAC Champions)
2015 IIAC Semifinals vs. No. 5 seed Wartburg, L 68-72

IIAC Preseason Coaches Poll
2015 - 6th

UD at St. Scholastica (Minn.)
Duluth, Minn.
November 13, 2015
Lost 69-71

DUBUQUE, Iowa – The Spartans are back to defend their first Iowa Conference regular season title in school history with a youthful outlook and some fresh faces.

Taking on the role of seasoned veterans is junior forward Emily Brinker (9.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), lightning quick sophomore guard Abbey Meyer (17.0 mpg, 5.3 ppg), and inside-outside threat sophomore forward Braanna Steen (5.2 mpg, 0.6 ppg) who will lead a Spartan team that returns 23.2% of their minutes after losing five senior starters.

“It’s always tough losing key players, but it will be a team effort to step up and replace them collectively,” said Head Coach Mark Noll. “Brinker, Meyer, and Steen are some of the top players in their respective classes in the IIAC and will allow us to play uptempo with a lot of freedom.”

This year’s seniors, guards Molly Richardson (5.5 mpg, 2.5 ppg) and Jessie Kirkwood (6.5 mpg, 1.4 ppg), look to make their mark as potentially the winningest class in UD history.

“Both of our seniors have been waiting for an opportunity to play a big role,” said Coach Noll. “Their roles will be much increased from a year ago thanks in part to their leadership and ability to stretch the floor as three-point shooters.”

Coach Noll and Co. face another tough non-conference schedule that features a pair of Top-15 teams in Wheaton (Ill.) and North Central (Ill.) in preparation for another rugged IIAC slate. Newcomers such as Madison Boer, Marissa Bell, Dani Lee, Naomi Kipulu, and Kelsey Betthauser add their names to the mix in pursuit of UD’s seventh-straight IIAC Tournament appearance.

“The Iowa Conference will be tough as nails once again as one of the top conferences in the country,” said Coach Noll. “We will have some very good pieces and a solid team that will compete. We hope to get better as the season goes on and with some added experience will make a run at the IIAC title.”

Projected Starters
Position/Name                       Hometown                 Class         Min      GP/GS    Pts      Rebs      Asts              
F Emily Brinker                        Baraboo, Wis.               Sr.            17.6      24/3        9.1       4.3        1.2                 
G Abbey Meyer                        Bernard, Iowa               So.           17.0      26/2        5.3       1.8        1.3                 
G Molly Richardson                  Marengo, Ill.                  Sr.            5.5        22/0       2.5       0.2        0.1                 
G Jessica Kirkwood                  Hudson, Wis.                 Sr.             6.5       16/0        1.4      0.6        0.5                 
F Braanna Steen                      Colfax, Wis.                  So.             5.2       17/0        0.6      1.0        0.1                 

Key Reserves
F Allie Biermeier                      Eau Claire, Wis.             So.             2.6       5/0          1.0       0.8        --
G Kara Enos                            Strum, Wis.                  So.             2.8        4/0          --        0.3         --

Top Newcomers
Name                                  Height          Year                            Hometown/HS - Transfer                                      
Kelsey Betthauser                 5-11               Fr.                              Ellsworth, Wis./Ellsworth
-Last played junior year of hs due to injury, one of top scorers in Wisconsin
Maddie Boer                         5-7                 Fr.                              Walker, Iowa/North Linn
-9 state track titles, 1st and 2nd at state basketball
Naomie Kipulu                      5-9                 Fr.                              Ft. Worth, Texas/LD Bell
-strong, athletic, good potential                                   
Dani Lee                              6-0                 Fr.                              Pearl City, Ill./Pearl City
-Four-year starter in hs, inside/outside threat
Marissa Bell                         5-10                Jr.                              Davenport, Iowa/Davenport North - Blackhawk CC
Megan Kleist                        5-10                Fr.                             Muscoda, Wis./Riverdale

Significant Digits
1 | 2014-15 IIAC finish, first Championship in school history
2 | Seniors out of 22 total players
4 | UW schools on schedule
5 | Career combined starts by entire team
5th | Picked to finish 5th by IIAC Coaches in each of last 4 years
6 | Winning seasons in last 8 years, only 6 in prior 31 seasons before Coach Noll
8 | Players 5-11 or taller, only 4 last season
19 | Combined state track titles between Meyer and newcomer Boer
23.2 | Percent of minutes returning after losing 5 senior starters
72.4 | PPG during IIAC play, led league in 2014-15, expect same uptempo style

4700 | Square footage of brand new Jon Davison Court
.559 | Coach Noll’s career winning percentage, best among UD coaches with 35+ games
00921 | One of many zip codes at San Juan, Puerto Rico where Spartans will travel on November 21-22

Returning Statistics
28.9% - Rebounding
24.0% - Assists
23.3% - Scoring
23.2% - Minutes