Coming off a below-average finish of third-to-last place in the Big Ten, the women’s basketball team looks to rebound this year under the leadership of coach Joe McKeown. On August 15th, it was announced that McKeown would receive a contract extension through 2017 as the coach has shown relentless dedication to the team and the community. He is transforming the team into a legitimate squad that will be up for taking on such Big Ten powerhouses as Penn State and Nebraska. Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips is confident that McKeown will lead the team to success despite its poor finish last year.
“With 580 career victories to his name, Joe McKeown remains one of the most accomplished coaches in women’s college basketball as well as in our department,” Phillips told NUSports.com. The 27-year coaching veteran has accumulated a .691 career winning percentage in addition to his wins. In just his second season with the program, McKeown led the 2009-10 squad to an 11-win improvement, which was tied for the 10th best turnaround in the nation and ranked fourth among BCS schools. The success produced NU’s first postseason appearance in 13 years and a ticket to the WNIT, which led to two victories and a trip to the event’s round of 16.
Off the court, Coach McKeown has done a great job with recruiting and has continued that success with the current freshman class. The rookie squad includes four very talented recruits, two of which (forward Nia Coffey and guard Christen Inman) were in the ESPN top 100 nation-wide recruits. All four freshmen look to contribute as much as possible early on in their careers as Wildcats. With their strong freshman and sophomore classes coach McKeown believes the team has a bright future. “The core of our team is our freshmen and sophomores,” coach remarked. “And if we can keep that group together and healthy over the next two or three years, we can compete with anyone in the league.”
Looking ahead, the ‘Cats will have a variety of opponents ranging from the inconsistent Chicago State Cougars in their second game to a very talented DePaul team two games later. The ‘Cats will have 16 conference games including two against Penn State and Nebraska, who held first and second place respectively last year in the Big Ten. Overall, it’s a tough but very doable schedule for the purple.Their first game is a home game on November 10th in which the ‘Cats will take on the UIC flames at 6 pm in Welsh-Ryan Arena (all ‘Cats fans should show). Show us what you got ladies, and of course, GO ‘CATS!
*Editor’s note: the lack of usable photos of women’s basketball really says something about our culture