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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO Steve'S COLUMNS

PURDUE WOMENS BASKETBALL:
Western Michigan University's women's basketball team


Courageous Koetsier Leads High-Scoring Bronco Squad


Date: 12/28/2002
Author: Steve
Steve

    Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has a very clean website that may appear dull to visitors but there are tidbits throughout that grab a person's interest. My favorite two pages on the website are the "Points of Pride" page, which is more than a simple 411 of the university and its history, and a "WMU Experts Guide" where a visitor can find a faculty member who has both interest and expertise in particular academic topics.

    The "Points of Pride" page highlights some commendable and some quirky traits of Western Michigan University including its Top-100 ranking by "U.S. News & World Report," the fact that the College of Education and the College of Business produce the 4th most and 12th most graduates in their fields, and that the Paper and Printing Sciences department is the only program in North America to have pilot plants for producing, printing, and recycling paper in a single location. And WMU already has a national championship in its grasp: the Sky Bronco aviation team won the National Collegiate Flying Association's 1998 national championship. The "Points of Pride" page can be found at the following address:

    http://www.wmich.edu/sub/points-of-pride.html.

    As for the WMU Faculty Experts Guide, a visitor who has a particular academic interest can use this search engine to find a faculty member who shares that interest. With just a few pull-down screens and a few keywords in the Advanced Search page, a student can find professors who have expertise in International Business, the Portrayal of African-Americans in Cinema, Truth-In-Sentencing Legislation, and more. A quick click on the faculty member's name sends the visitor to a short blurb about the topic and the faculy member's experience in the field. This informative tool can be found at the following address:

    http://www.experts.wmich.edu/cgi-bin/displaytopic.pl.

    A future point of pride for Western Michigan may be its women's basketball program which, although young--only one player has senior eligibility, and only two others are juniors--is playing a demanding schedule that is sure to prepare the team for conference play in the MAC. Besides facing Purdue, the Broncos have played at Kansas State (a 17-point loss) and will host North Carolina on January 23. Hopefully a further point of pride for WMU will be an upgrade in its women's basketball homepage, which is woefully short of up-to-date information: the roster page includes no links to pages for the individual players, the schedule page has no links to two games (against Kansas State and Missouri-Kansas City), and the statistics page tracks information through only 4 games; this would be OK if the Broncos had played only four games to date, but they've already played in eight.

    Regardless of how little information is included about the Broncos, one fact is made abundantly clear: they know how to score. The Broncos have surpassed 100 points twice this season (including 115 against IUPU-FW), more than 80 five times, and jacked up 75 against Kansas State. Their low point total of the year came against Missouri-Kansas City in a 75-62 loss. The high-flying offense seems to stall a bit on the road, however, as the Broncos average only 77 points per game away from home. Learn more (although not MUCH more) about the Broncos at the following address:

    http://www.wmubroncos.com/sports/basketball/women/index.html

    OK, here's the deal. Kristin Koetsier may not be the best player on the Bronco squad: sophomore guard Casey Rost is shooting the lights out from the field, 3-point line, and FT line and sophomore guard Maria Jilian leads the MAC in assists and has had at least 3 double-figure games in that category already. Koetsier is the tallest player on the Bronco squad at 6'3" and is its most honored player, having been named first-team all-MAC for her first two seasons. But neither of those reasons factor into why she's highlighted in this section of the preview. It's the courage of Kristin Koetsier that stands out and deserves recognition among the Boilermaker faithful.

    Purdue fans know of the difficult times that Katie Douglas faced during her years as a Boilermaker. Her strength and fortitude were amazing for a 20-something-year-old woman who had lost both her parents and a teammate in a short span of time. Through the difficult times, Katie finely honed her basketball and leadership skills and, more importantly, remained a tremendous representative of Purdue University as she faced the glare of the media about her loss with grace and humility. For these reasons, Katie was honored as the first recipient of the "V" Foundation award, named for former N.C. State coach Jim Valvano. Kristin Koetsier is the 2002 recipient of the same award and for similar reasons. Kristin battled blood disorders twice in her short career, before her freshman and sophomore years, and came back from an ACL injury in the 2000-2001 season to remain one of the best players in the MAC conference. The 4th-year junior also won the Honda Inspiration Award last year as she overcame her life-threatening disorders. The 1999 Miss Basketball for the state of Michigan, Kristin Koetsier has had to face challenges in her life that I couldn't even comprehend having to deal with. Regardless of how well her basketball career plays out at WMU or how many accolades she garners after she graduates, Kristin Koetsier has already garnered hero status in my book. Read more about Kristin Koetsier, her "V" Foundation Award, and the obstacles she's had to overcome at the following pages:

    http://www.wmubroncos.com/sports/basketball/women/releases/nevergiveupday.html
    http://www.athlonsports.com/articles/1129/

    Have you noticed that the majority of highlighted players in these previews have been centers? Viall of UW-Milwaukee, D'Hondt of Pacific, Irvin of TCU, Anderson of Vanderbilt, Hawkins of IU, Taylor of UCSB... it's as if Kristy Curry has intentionally scheduled teams that have monster frontcourt players with skills that can give Mary Jo fits. Well, gentle readers, add Kristin Koetsier to that list as Mary Jo must once again play against a very solid center with multiple skills: Koetsier isn't the best 3-point shooter on the Broncos, but she shoots it just often enough to be a threat; Koetsier doesn't lead the team in assists but she's effective enough as a passer to find the open shot; she doesn't play the entire game, but at almost 30 minutes per she's obviously got some stamina. And I'd wager she's probably a fearless player after all she's had to endure physically. Mary Jo is going to have to step up and not take anything for granted against the 6'3" junior.

    The Boilers will have to do the same against the entire Bronco squad, as any team that can get hot enough to score 90+ points three times in eight games has to be taken seriously. The schedule that the Broncos have played may help them, as playing against KSU in Manhattan can't have been the easiest of experiences. A trip to Mackey Arena, however, will be something entirely different to this young squad as an 8000-9000 member crowd could ruin many teams' confidence. Add that the Boilermakers are more experienced than the Broncos, especially at the backcourt positions, and the Boilermakers should control this game once the teams have felt out one another. The Boilers shouldn't underestimate the courage of Kristin Koetsier and the skills of her sophomore backcourt, however, or this will be a tense game for the Old Gold and Black. I hope Koetsier receives a standing ovation from the crowd, but Purdue will win.


As news organizations move their stories to an archive, some of the links listed above may become inactive

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