Recently in Women's Basketball Category
The 2012-13 season was a memorable one for Northwestern. Over the next few weeks, we will celebrate the conference championships, noteworthy wins and significant milestones the Wildcats accumulated during the past year. Be sure to follow along at NUSports.com as we revisit the top 20 moments.
Every second counted in Northwestern's game against the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Feb. 3, 2013. Despite trailing by as many as 15 points in the second half, NU stormed back and led by two at 65-63 with less than a minute to play.
| Roser Beats the Buzzer at Iowa|
Iowa then made things interesting as Melissa Dixon's jumper knotted things up at 65-65 with just three seconds showing but the Wildcats were determined to end the game in regulation. With the clock winding down, NU sophomore point guard Karly Roser used her speed and vision to go coast-to-coast and sink her game-winning layup as the horn sounded to give Northwestern the 67-65 win and the program's first victory in Iowa City since 1995.
"It was a great college basketball game," Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown said. "We were fortunate enough to make one more play at the end. ... It's good for us to keep our poise, being down, and be able to come back and just be able to make some plays at the end. ... I think Karly Roser played with a lot of poise in the second half. In the second half I think she had complete control of our team."
At the end of the 2012-13 season, Roser was one of four Wildcats, along with seniors Kendall Hackney and Dannielle Diamant and freshman Maggie Lyon, honored with All-Big Ten accolades. Lyon had a stellar first season at Northwestern as she became the first Wildcat to earn Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades.
By Skip Myslenski
NUsports.com Special Contributor
National Girls & Women in Sports Day was Wednesday, Feb. 6, but Northwestern will celebrate this special event on Sunday, Feb. 10, prior to the NU women's basketball game vs. Ohio State. NUsports.com Special Contributor Skip Myslenski takes a look back at how opportunities for women in sports have grown over the years, speaking with NU head women's basketball coach Joe McKeown, a 20+-year coaching veteran, former NU women's basketball All-American Anucha Browne and NU senior shortstop Emily Allard.
He was now back in Philadelphia, his hometown, and looking for work, any kind of work coaching basketball. This was the summer of 1980 and here he heard that over in New Jersey, over there across the bridge in the small town of Pemberton, both the men's and the women's job were vacant at a two-year school called Burlington County College. So he applied and an interview was arranged, but when he arrived for it this is what he heard. "We already filled the men's job," he heard. "Do you want the women's job?"
"Sure," said Joe McKeown, now the head coach of the 'Cat Women.
He smiles out from a chair in his office as he relates this tale, and that smile remains rooted there as he recalls this very different time. "We had five players," he is saying now. "We had a tryout. I don't think they had won a game the year before. So I was pulling people out of the hallways, saying, 'Hey, come play for us.' We had six players. But I had a girl in the middle of the season elope, get married. So we were down to five. I remember finishing games with three players. Players would foul out, we would run triangle-and-none defenses, box-and-none defenses. We won six or seven games, had a lot of fun.
"I remember in practice, I would practice with them. We didn't have anybody else. We didn't have enough people to practice. We would play three-on-three all the time, or two-on-two, or run five-on-zero. Our biggest player was probably 5-foot-9. We'd have kids double-dribble all the time. We'd tell the refs before games, 'Don't call that today. Don't call double-dribbles. We didn't mean it.'"
So the skill set of today compared to then?
"The skill set today, the training that goes into it, the strength-and-conditioning, the treatment they get, the scholarship money-- I remember that team, we didn't have a budget. My salary was, I think, $400. The lady, I said, 'What's our budget?' She said, 'Your salary.' So we'd stop at diners around Philly and New Jersey, or go to McDonald's. If I had 20 bucks in my pocket, we'd feed the whole team. If I had 15, we'd stick with the dollar menu. That's how it was."
In the fall of 1981, as McKeown prepared for his second season at Burlington, Anucha Browne began her freshman year at Northwestern. She had grown up in Brooklyn and, while in elementary school, had lost herself in figure skating. But she had sprouted to 5-foot-10 in the ninth grade and so then, at that borough's St. Saviour High School, she turned her attention to basketball and track.
No, she recalls now, she was never criticized or ostracized for her involvement in sports, and then she explains why. St. Saviour was an all-girls school and at them, she goes on, "Girls are empowered to be who they are, to have confidence in their abilities, to have confidence in their talents. It was the best place I could be."
Here she pauses, chuckles and then she goes on, "Being tall is probably what made me most uncomfortable. But when you become an athlete, you're surrounded by other athletes. You're comfortable with each other. You're comfortable being powerful. You're comfortable sweating. All of that helped, being in a positive environment relative to playing sports."
It helped too that her mother, a former player herself, had supported and encouraged her participation, and that as a runner she was tutored by a man named Fred Thompson. He, in those days, was a legendary figure, a practicing attorney who espoused women participating in track; who founded and financed Brooklyn's famed Atoms Track Club; who produced Olympic medalists at that club; and who, finally, helped coach the U.S. women's track team at the 1988 Games in Seoul. "I do realize it was a lot different experience for other women," she will say now. "But I was always surrounded by strong, confident women."
So she herself was that in that fall of 1981 and now she set off on her remarkable 'Cat career. She would be an All-American as a senior. She would twice be named the Big Ten's Player of the Year. She would set an NCAA record by scoring 30-or-more points in six straight games. She would, not insignificantly, be part of the 'Cat team that earned an invite to the 1982 national championship tourney, the first women's basketball tourney run by the NCAA. (Until then, the governing group was the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.)
This is not insignificant since Anucha Browne is now the Vice-President of Women's Basketball Championships for the NCAA, the caretaker of that tourney that will kick off again come March. "When you talk about (the) 32 years (that have passed), women's basketball has grown by leaps and bounds," she will finally say, speaking from that perspective, and then she offers the numbers that support her claim. At that first tourney, she says, the total attendance for its 19 sessions was a mere 20,000. But at last spring's tourney, she goes on, that number was 200,000.
A decade after the NCAA ran its first Women's Basketball Tournament, Emily Allard was born in the California town of Antioch. She was, from the start, drawn to sports, and at the precocious age of four she was already out on the diamond and playing softball. "I was the tomboy, or one of the boys, or the one who came home with grass stains on her pants, things like that. But I don't think it (her playing sports) was ever frowned upon, and I never let that (what was said) effect me," she remembers. "I just knew in my heart that this was what I was good at, that it was going to take me far, and that I loved doing it. So no one was going to stop me from that no matter what they said."
She was free to dream, then, free to imagine possibilities unavailable to those from generations so-recently past. Women had begun playing full-court basketball just 21 years earlier. (Until then they had played a six-on-six game where three players stayed on one side of the half-court line as defenders and three stayed on the other side as scorers.)
And Title IX, which opened up athletic opportunities for women, had been enacted just 20 years earlier. ("I truly am a product of Title IX," Anucha Browne will declare in our discussion, and then she shares these figures. At the time of its enactment, some 30,000 women were participating in intercollegiate athletics. Now there are 200,000.)
And Ann Meyers had gotten the first athletic scholarship awarded by a Division I school (UCLA) to a woman just 17 years earlier. (The 'Cats now have women on scholarship in 11 different sports.)
And just eight years earlier, at the 1984 Games of Los Angeles, women had finally been considered sturdy enough to compete in the Olympic marathon.
But already all of that was ancient history and so, as her skills grew along with her body, Allard could hold onto her dream, could nurture her dream, could pursue her dream freed from many of the prejudices and handicaps confronted by her predecessors. There was, we wonder, never a discouraging word? "That's very true. I was very fortunate," says Allard, a senior, star and shortstop on the 'Cat softball team. "I think people understood the work I put in, and the potential I had, whether it was in athletics or in the classroom, and they just wanted to do anything they could to help me get where I was headed.
"I do not come from a wealthy family. But my parents found the means necessary to get me where I needed to go, especially when I got older and started playing travel ball and that college scholarship was looming. I think they knew that I would ultimately save them hundreds of thousands of dollars by forking over $1,500 so I could play on the best travel team that I could. I think those sacrifices just made me appreciate what I had so much more, and in the end it really worked out. They haven't had to pay a penny and that's opened numerous doors for our family."
Last Wednesday, for the 27th time, National Girls and Women in Sports Day was celebrated. On Sunday afternoon, before the 'Cat Women face Ohio State at Welsh-Ryan Arena, that occasion will be observed at an event featuring ESPN's Sarah Spain, who will give its keynote address and lead a roundtable discussion. "People my age and in my generation have a lot to pay back to the people who came before us, especially the women who came before us," Allard will say during our talk.
"I don't think we really understand what others had to go through and I think days like this, where they're honoring women and girls in sports, is kind of eye-opening for my generation. I don't want to say I'm oblivious to it. But I will never truly understand what other women did to pave the road to today."
Today is surely not a perfect world for women in sports. It is, in fact, not a perfect world for anyone. Yet the road traveled by female athletes is long enough to stretch back to the Ancient Olympics, which are idealized even though women could not compete in them and married women could not even attend them. (If they did and were caught, they were thrown to their death off Mount Typaeum). Women were banned too when the Modern Games began in 1896 and they were not allowed to compete in track-and-field events until 1928; but that year, at the conclusion of the 800 meters, a number of competitors collapsed, controversy arose and they would not again run that far at an Olympics until the 1960 Games in Rome. Twelve years later, in Munich, they were finally considered strong enough to compete in the 1,500 meters, and then 12 more years would pass before the United State's Joan Benoit won the first marathon gold medal awarded to a woman.
McKeown, in turn, was on a road of his own, driving his Burlington team to games in one of the school's minivans ("You just hoped you didn't run out of gas," he remembers), then driving again in the late '80s after he took over New Mexico State in his first head job. This time he would navigate a 15-passenger Econoline van, guiding it the 275 miles from Las Cruces to Tucson for a game with Arizona; then guiding it the 126 miles from Tucson to Glendale for a game with Arizona State; finally guiding it the 400 miles from Glendale back to Las Cruces and home. (Utah, Brigham Young, Wyoming and Colorado State were also on the team's schedule; on those occasions, they would fly to Salt Lake City, rent three minivans, drive to the various outposts and, he recalls, "Hope you didn't crash in the snow.")
"We went undefeated and our motto was, 'We're going to Sizzler.' We went to Sizzler, for eight bucks you could feed everybody," he also says of those days, thinking back to one of his teams. But already, in his sport, a corner had been turned, and leading the advance were names of renown. Meyers, a four-time All-American at UCLA, had signed a contract and gotten a tryout with the Indiana Pacers in 1979. Cheryl Miller, a USC All-American and the sister of Pacer guard Reggie, had led the U.S. women to a gold medal at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Lynette Woodard, a former Kansas All-American, had become the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters in 1985 and, a year later, Nancy Lieberman had become the first woman to play in a man's pro league when she joined the USBL's Springfield Fame.
"I think those pioneers like Ann Meyers, Cheryl Miller, they had personalities. They understood how to get things done," McKeown says, thinking of those driving forces. "They didn't say, 'You have to give us.' That's what helped grow women's sports too. Not just making demands. You needed to know how to talk to people, how to deal with people, and I think a lot of coaches in our game in the '80s started to get better at that too. That really helped us."
The Scribbler, some 42 years ago, was a young Sports Illustrated reporter assigned to do a story on a female distance runner at UCLA. He does not remember her name. But he does remember she told him this. She told him that her sorority sisters demanded that she use the back door when she returned from her runs; if she didn't, if she came in all sweaty through the front door, she would embarrass them in front of their dates.
"Wow. Oh, wow. I can't imagine that," Emily Allard will say when that perspective is offered up to her. "That's hard. It's got to be hard. Especially when it's part of who you are. Man. I don't know. I don't know what I would have done. I've never faced anything like that."
Allard, in fact, faces a far different reality, a reality that not only accepts a woman who sweats and strains and comes home with grass-stained knees. It can also, on occasion, view those pursuits as assets, which in her case was proven just last summer.
She had to make a choice back then, a choice between accepting an invite to the U.S. national team tryouts and taking the internship she had been offered in the marketing department of Wilson Sporting Goods. "That was really big for me. It was something outside of sports, furthering my career," she says of the latter, and more was at work here as well.
"I also had a couple nagging injuries, I guess you could say, and it was a decision to be ready for next season or play on the national team. My commitment has always been here to Northwestern and it was something I had to do for myself and my team and my health, not my own glory. . . I never imagined turning down an invitation to play for my country. But it was something that had to be done. . . At the time, it was a very hard decision for me to make. But I think it was the right one."
The internship, we wonder now, does she think her involvement in sports helped her land that job?
"Yes," she says flatly. "Being an athlete, especially in softball, it helped me be more relevant to their company. That's what they are, a sporting goods company, especially for baseball and softball. So it all kind of fell into place and it was the most-incredible experience of my summer."
"Women are now celebrated for being involved in sports. . .and they've shown to be better leaders and more effective effective in the workplace because of their team experiences," Browne will say days later. She offers this coincidentally, without prompt, with no knowledge of Allard's experience, and here she continues, "Companies very regularly reach out to universities and ask if they can point out graduating, high-potential student-athletes. They realize they have the core leadership skills needed at their companies."
Joe McKeown is again smiling. He and his 'Cat Women now travel to away games on either chartered busses or planes, and his players' skills and experiences are as far removed from what he confronted at Burlington as their uniforms are from the floor-length dresses worn by the first women to play basketball. They now enter their sport at the earliest of ages, hone their talents with diligence and passion, and--when the time arrives--are recruited as assiduously as any of their male counterparts. Their roster is now complete enough to hold spirited practices, their productions are now mottled only rarely by double-dribbling, and now they eat not at a McDonald's or a Sizzler, but at a training table or a fine hotel restaurant.
But, we wonder, does Joe McKeown ever think back to those old days, back to those days of cheap eats and endless van rides, and this is when he offers up that last, final smile. Then, eyes twinkling, he says, "Everyday. Everyday, everyday, everyday. And especially when we're on a charter flight coming back from Ohio State or wherever."
In this season of giving, the Northwestern Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is encouraging fans to donate to its annual food drive. Individuals attending this Friday's men's basketball game against Stony Brook and the women's women's basketball game against North Carolina State on Nov. 30 are asked to bring non-perishable canned food items for donation.
Those who donate are eligible to enter to win a raffle for gift cards. The beneficiary of the food drive is Family Focus.
In addition to the two basketball games, donations can also be dropped off at SPAC on the Northwestern campus, the Globe Cafe and Bar in the Hilton Orrington Hotel, the Northwestern University Police Station as well as Evanston Fire Departments. The last day to drop off items at the Evanston locations is Thursday, Dec. 1.
All-America center Amy Jaeschke stopped by our offices this morning to say goodbye before she leaves Saturday to take the next step in her basketball career. "I have to go pack," she said. "I don't think I have enough time." Given her destination, that may not be an understatement.
Jaeschke has signed a four-month contract with professional club Chevakata in the northwest Russian city of Vologda. She leaves this week for a training camp in Lithuania before the Russian Women's PBL schedule kicks off in October. The season runs into next spring, but Jaeschke's initial contract expires around Christmas.
"It is pretty common to sign a four-month contract when you are an unproven rookie in their league," Jaeschke said. "After it's over, they can choose to re-sign you for the rest of the season or you have the option to negotiate for more money or sign with a different team if you want."
Jaeschke found out she made the squad halfway through a three-week training camp in Lithuania that ended last week. She flew home to Chicago on Monday, Aug. 29, but will be wheels up again on Sept. 3 for the final preseason training camp next week. She already has met "85 percent" of her teammates -- all Russian -- and said the squad hopes to sign another American or European player in the coming weeks.
"(The language barrier) is very difficult," Jaeschke said. "Only two of my teammates speak English and the coaches do not at all. Luckily they are really patient and will translate things for me."
Despite the distance from home and the fact Vologda located in the northern part of a region known for its long winters ("I'm from Chicago, I'll be fine," she said), Jaeschke is excited to continue her career in one of the best professional women's leagues in the world.
"I was kind of hesitant at first with it being Russia," she said. "But this is a great move for my career with a great team in a great league.
"I can't believe I'm getting paid to play basketball. I've been doing this the last 20 years of my life and now I'm getting paid to do it? I went over to training camp and was thinking 'this is just like what preseason was like at Northwestern,' except I was getting paid. I know I got a free education (at NU), but getting an actual paycheck for playing basketball is so crazy!"
Click here to see Brittany in action with Habitat for Humanity
Hi Wildcat Fans!
Hello from Findlay,
Ohio! I have left the big city of Evanston for the summer for an
engineering internship with Marathon Petroleum Company LP (Marathon Oil
Corporation and Marathon Petroleum Corporation recently split...I am now in what
they call the "downstream" side of the company, Marathon Petroleum) in Findlay,
OH. I have replaced nonstop traffic and skyscrapers for peaceful
open roads and farmland this summer. It is surely an adjustment, but
I have truly enjoyed my time here thus far.
I am working in a
group within Marathon Petroleum called M&TE (Marketing and Transportation
Engineering). I have been placed in a major project called the
Woodhaven Flare Project, working on a site in Woodhaven,
Michigan. Working from the Findlay site, I get to examine the
workings of salt caverns storing propane and butane underground, large brine
tanks to supply these caverns when empty, pipeline transporting crude oil
around the country, and as implied, a large flare which releases pressure
within these above and below ground pipelines. Well, needless to
say, after 4 weeks of being on the job, I have sure learned a lot about big
oil! One of the fun things I have been able to experience is the safety
outfits required to wear when on site at one of these major facilities. I have provided you a picture of me in my
outfit for your own personal enjoyment. (See Photo Album at top)
This past week
(week 4 of my internship) has truly been the biggest test of my abilities as an
engineer. My supervisor and project manager have been on vacation
for the entire week and I have been left in charge of the project to answer
questions and any problems that might arise during construction. I
would've never expected this much responsibility so early on but this
internship has really prepared me for my entrance into the working world within
the next year.
After working 8 am
to 5 pm every day, I have still managed to get my Wildcat workouts in and even
participate in other activities to keep in shape this summer. I ran a 5 mile race on the Fourth of July and
have signed up to compete in a sprint triathlon at the end of August. I have one unique story which shows how
important it is to make a good impression everywhere you go. During my lunch hours, I am a frequent
visitor at the Findlay YMCA across from Marathon Petroleum to play pickup
basketball for about an hour or so. The
other day as I am leaving, I notice this man running to follow me out of the
gymnasium door. As I'm walking out he
asks, "Were you at the Chicago Autism Speaks walk this spring?" Flabbergasted, I turned and confirmed that I
had been and he went on to explain that he was at that walk in Chicago and
thought he recognized my face from walking on stage. It goes to show that wherever student
athletes go, we are always representing Northwestern and need to make sure we
present ourselves with class.
I was fortunate enough to take part in while an employee at Marathon Petroleum
was Habitat for Humanity. On July 12, I
took my carpentry skills to a plot of land down the road from the main Marathon
Petroleum building to help construct a new home for a wonderful couple. The week previous to the build, I was able to
attend an informational session during my lunch to learn more about this couple
we were working to help and about the project itself. It tugged at my heart as this woman explained
her struggles with epilepsy and the high cost of medication putting her and her
husband into unstable financial grounds.
It was awe inspiring to see these two show up the day of construction
and help me and my coworkers build the very house they would be living in. As far as the building went, it only took me
about a good 15 minutes and 3 fingers to get used to hammering nails into wood. Okay, I have to admit, I'm lying about the
3 fingers; as a basketball player, I was very precautionary in order to protect
the tools which have allowed me to dribble and shoot for all of these
years. But I was able to pound nails
into the very structural framework of the house and see a roof and garage get
built before my very eyes. I have
included some pictures from my day of work.
This experience not
only at Habitat for Humanity but while working at Marathon Petroleum has
allowed me to take a step back and realize how truly blessed I am to be a
Northwestern Wildcat. The challenges
faced everyday as a college athlete while studying at one of the top academic
programs in the country has prepared me well and allowed me to develop the
necessary skills to become a successful engineer.