Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hamline Women Get a New Coach

Hamline hired Kerri Stockwell as their new women's basketball coach and so now it's official. The biggest problem the Pipers will face next year is over-confidence. Not that Stockwell is given to such things, I mean on the part of Hamline fans. The point is that the Pipers have a bunch of talent coming back and, now, a coach who seems to know how to, er, coach.

I happen to have seen the Pipers this past year--meaning, I wanted to see the surprising Lady Scots of Macalester, and by the time I managed to get on over to the Leonard Center, Hamline happened to be the opponent. Macalester won pretty easily 74-48 and, to be honest, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to the Pipers. I only learned later on that Hamline had lost 3 starters--Stephanie Robinson, Rochelle Sather and Kristin Sczublewski--to injuries during the course of the season. All 3 started the Pipers' first game. Then Robinson came off the bench for 3 games until returning to the starting lineup as a result of a season-ending injury to Sather. Robinson went down in the very next game, however, and Sczublewski joined her on the sidelines another 6 games later.

Sather was the only senior on that roster, so assuming everybody comes back healthy, well, again, Hamline is going to have a lot of talent. In fact, its front court could dominate a lot of people. But while there's a lot of guards, you can only put 2 or 3 of them on the court at one time, and so Hamline's guard play remains a question mark.

Center--The post is 6-foot-1 Mary Wilkowski, 1st team all-MIAC and honorable mention D3 all-America last year as a junior. Wilkowski scored 17 points per game and added 9 boards, while becoming just the 9th Piper woman to score 1,000 points in her career.

Wilkowski's back-up is Tromesa May, also 6-1, from St. Louis Park who, as a freshman, has already won an MIAC 6th Player of the Year award after only joining the team in January. She contributed 9 points and 7 boards to the cause. A key question for Coach Stockwell will be whether she can get Wilkowski and May on the court together. May doesn't look like somebody who can play away from the basket, however, and do you want to move your all-American out of her comfort zone? Questions, questions.

Big Forward--At the big forward is Jessica Englund, 6-2, from St. Francis, who started 14 games last year after the injury bug hit, contributing 5 points and 5.5 boards. She will be a junior next year.

Small Forward--Of course, Hamline can go small, as it did at the start last year with Sather and Sczublewski, both nominally guards. If so, this time the best options look like Sczublewski and Robinson. Sczublewski, who will be a senior this coming season, started the first 11 games last year, contributing 9 points, 4 assists and 3 boards. She shot a mediocre 36 percent from the field, however. Robinson, who will be a junior, on the other hand, shot a stellar 56 percent, scoring 9 points, but with 3.5 turnovers.

Point Guard--Both point guards are back and both earned all-conference honors: Nikki Klink, senior-to-be from Hibbing, was honorable mention and her back-up, Kara Poirer, sophomore-to-be from Eau Claire, WI, made the all-1st years. Klink scored 9.5 points with 4 boards, 4 assists and a team-high 2 steals. Poirer scored 6 points per game. The 2 had 4 turnovers per game between them, not bad, but they shot 38 and 31 percent, respectively. Clearly, the objective is to get them better shots and fewer next year.

Shooting Guard--Senior-to-be Jackie Kelly, from Blaine, was the #2 scorer at 11 points per game, and added 3 boards and 3 assists. She made more than half of the Pipers' 3s at a stellar 43 percent clip (64-for-149). Somehow, however, she managed to make just 23-of-70 2s, or 33 percent.

The primary issue will be shooting. When Wilkowski, May or Kelly (from beyond the arc) are not shooting the ball, the percentages are pretty bad. Other than Kelly, the Pipers shot barely more than 25 percent from 3 point-land. Redistributing the shots, generally, and finding another 3 point shooter will be among Stockwell's primary challenges.

Then there's turnovers. No one player seems to have an excessive number, it's just that everybody has their fair share and so the Pipers ended up with 10 more turnovers than their opponents. That also represents an inability to create the turnover and some easy baskets. Opponents shot just 40 percent overall, but 36 percent on 3s, and scored 68.5 points. Stockwell will surely be looking to cut that back by a few points a game.

Which brings us back to the new coach. Stockwell's resume is pretty impressive, consisting primarily of 7 years as Paul Fessler's head assistant coach at Concordia (St. Paul). During Stockwell's tenure, the Bears went to D2 post-season play 6 straight years, making it to the Sweet 16 in 2005. They won the Northern Sun regular season championship 3 times and the post-season title 3 times. Previous to that, she coached at North St. Paul. As head coach from 1999-2002, the Polars went 45-29 and played in the 2000 girls state high school tournament. She was section 6AAAA coach of the year in 2000. As an assistant there for the 4 years previous, she helped the Polars to the 1998 and 1999 state tournaments as well.

Again, one of Stockwell's primary issues will be dealing with high expectations, something Hamline has rarely had. Hamline has never won an MIAC women's basketball title, and over the past 6 years the Pipers won 72 while losing 77 under coach Melissa Kruse-Young. But with everybody, including a major talent such as Wilkowski, back from an injury-marred 13-12 season, Hamline should probably be rated right behind perennial powers St. Thomas and St. Ben's in the pre-season poll. No pressure here.


  1. I happen to know the former coach and nothing could be further from the truth - she was and is a tremendous coach and one of the most giving people I have ever met. Wow.... for claiming to never even watching a Hamline game, you sure seem to know an awful lot about each and every Hamline player. Hmm.....could this smear tactic be perhaps a set up article by you on 'someone's' behalf? By the way, these players you talk in great detail about, are the result of Coach Young Kruse's recruiting, not the new coach who I have not heard of before. I wish her well with the former coaches recruits.
    For your information, Hamline was in the pack for a playoffs berth and beat the No 1 team, Gustavus, this year, in spite of 5 key players being out for the season due to injuries. Coach Young Kruse took Hamline from the bottom where they have been as long as I can remember to a number of playoff berths for the first time in school history, so maybe you need to check your facts in order to write more objectively, instead of lowering yourself to smear tactic cracks. I was told by a couple players that are devastated by her resignation that Coach, resigned due to a serious health issues and how they saw and heard the Athletic Director verbally abuse her and even some players. I looked that up after hearing it and saw that he has the same reputation in a number of other colleges he has jumped around to every few years. But then you also seem to enjoy abuse of women coaches with slander. I plan to send this blog to Coach Young Kruse in the hopes she takes it to her attorney as well a number of woman coaches in Minnesota, who need to know what kind of man you are. This comes from a person who actually knows the former coach and players.
    In closing I will respond in kind to you....
    Maybe you.... "err, need to know how to write an honest article instead of a cowardly defamation of character attempt of a woman coach.

  2. I agree with BAP. For someone who only saw Hamline play "once" this season, and then "barely watched them," how is it that Sunnyday knows so many specifics about so many of the players? Who fed Sunnyday all this information? That's an inside job if I ever saw one, or actually read, in this situation.

    By the way, Fessler's great records and accomplishments belong to Fessler, the head coach, not his assistants. That's how the game goes. And like BAP said, maybe the new coach will do well, especially with all the stellar players Sunnyday was glorifying- the ones that former Coach Young-Kruse had already recruited in.

    I was hoping to find objective basketball and recruiting information on this site, but plainly see that's not possible. Coaches looking on this site shouldn't have to sift through propoganda for a new coach and obvious slanted viewpoints and classless attacks of other coaches by the proprietor of the site. Like I need that! And I won't have to anymore, as I won't be using this service again.