FAIRBANKS, Alaska - The University of Alaska Fairbanks announced last week that they will play out all of its sports for the upcoming year. With that news, the sports schedules will start to roll out. On Tuesday, the women's basketball team released it's 2019-2020 slate, giving us a look inside who the Nanooks will be facing this year.
The Women's team will open its season down in Anchorage for the West Region Challenge, where they will face the San Francisco State Gators to officially begin their season on November 9th.
The squad will then head down to California, for a pair of non conference matchups.
Before making their home debut, the Nanooks will compete in the Seawolf Hoops Classic at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
It is the weekend of November 28th where you will get your first chance to the see the women's team in action. The Nanooks will be hosting the Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational at the Patty Center, which will feature Chadron State (Nebraska), Converse College (South Carolina) and Lake Erie College (Ohio).
The rest of the Nanooks schedule will consist of Great Northwest Athletic Conference matchups.
UAF will open GNAC play at home on December 5th against the Western Oregon Wolves.
Former West Valley Wolfpack standouts Ellen Silva and Sierra Tate, who are now a part of UAA's program, will have their homecoming on January 14th, when the Nanooks host the Seawolves in Fairbanks.
Although head coach Kerri Nakamoto is in her second year, this was her first summer being able to put together her own recruiting class.
"We really looked to fill some holes that we were missing last year as far as defensively and add a little bit more athleticism to the group, that is really what we targeted," Nakamoto said. "We will be a little bit small next year because we graduated both of our post players, but I think our ability to score and share the basketball and up and down the court is going to be more effective."
Coming along with her new recruiting class are several Alaskan hoopers.
"We have got four Alaskans coming. One from Kotzebue, one from Juneau, one here, local, Olivia, from Lathrop, and one from Sitka. We will have a nice compliment, we will actually have more Alaskans than we do outside student athletes which will be nice for the community," Nakamoto said.
"I think just trying to find the best Alaska players that want to get better. I think there is a lot of talent here that, they may not have the same competition they have other places, so they may not have developed quite as far as you want them to at this point, but I think that is the excitement in bringing them in, there is so much room for growth," Nakamoto added.
"Instead of them going outside, maybe to a junior college or wherever else, coming here where we will have the chance to be hands-on, we have a small squad, we are new, we are building, so they are going to get experience right away. You do not necessarily have that opportunity at a lot of places, so I think that is what attracted them here."
Before the regular season begins, UAF will have an alumni game at a date yet to be determined.