FAIRBANKS, Alaska - For this edition of Nanook Corner we shine the spotlight on the Women's Basketball team, as they prepare for the 2018 season.
Although the season doesn't start until early November, the Nanook Women's Basketball team is gearing up for a brand new year. The Nooks, who are being led by new Head Coach Kerri Nakamoto are currently working in the Patty Center Gym 2 hours a day, where they are mainly focusing on individual skills. For Nakamoto, this gives her a chance to get to know the team she'll be leading.
"I wish it was more than two hours, but we've been doing a lot of individual skill development. We just started, now that we're getting closer to practice, to try and put in some concepts of more screening, reading screens, things like that, so then we'll make our transition once we have the whole team together," said Nakamoto.
There truly is nowhere to go but up for the Nooks. The Women's basketball team went 4-22 overall last year, two of those wins coming from tournament games, and the other two against an NAIA School, the Multnomah Lions. They finished the year with an 0-20 GNAC record. This group of players, led by seniors such as Emily Evans, look forward to turning over a new page for this program.
"We have this core group that is ready to work and build off last season because, like you said, there's nowhere to go but up and that's what we're trying to do. The preseason is probably one of the toughest parts of the season so I think we're just trying to build off that together. We're trying to get better and tough it out until we can start playing some basketball," said Evans.
"We have a really good group of Student Athletes. They're very coachable, respectful, they work hard, and I think they want to be coached. They want to improve and they want to be better than what they were last year. So I think I'm a little bit lucky walking into that situation," said Nakamoto.
There is going to be a huge test right off the bat. The Nooks will be hosting the Oregon Ducks, in their first game of the year, who will be led by Fairbanks' own Ruthy Hebard. The Ducks are one of the top teams in the country, finishing in the Elite 8 of the NCAA National Championship Tournament. This gives the Nanooks a chance to not only share the court with some of the best players in the country, but also play in an atmosphere rarely seen at the Patty Center.
"Not very many teams get the chance to play one of the top teams in the Nation. It's going to be a learning experience for sure but I'm definitely excited to play some of the top players and it's going to be a really good atmosphere," said Evans.
You can see your Nanook Women's Basketball team in action for the first time on October 27th in their annual Alumni Game.
"Every day I think we've gotten better. I think they're hungry for growth, which, as a coach, is great. They want to be coached, they take feedback. They want to get better. We've just got to continue on that path and continue focusing on improving every single day to get to the point where we want to be once we start playing games," said Nakamoto.