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Eric Peterson, Published November 23 2010

Women's basketball: Dragons young, ready for home opener

Starting her second decade as head coach of the Minnesota State Moorhead women’s basketball program, Karla Nelson has never had a team like this.

“This is by far the youngest team I’ve had,” said Nelson, in her 11th season. “With that, there are a lot of positives. You can mold them and make them into what you want, but in the process there is a lot of learning going on and that all takes time.”

The Dragons have one senior on their roster –

5-foot-9 guard Betsy Dickson – and three juniors. Nelson expects two freshmen to fill starting roles for a team that lost around 50 percent of its scoring from last season.

MSUM (1-1 overall) is scheduled to play its home opener at 6 p.m. today with a nonconference game against Mayville State.

The Dragons play their Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference opener on Dec. 3 at Bemidji State.

“We do have a really young team. We have a lot of learning to do, but we are getting better every day in practice,” said junior forward Angie Jetvig, who averaged 18.5 points per game in the first two games this season. “Once we start getting used to the pace of the game, all the new young people, I think we are going to be a dangerous team.”

The 6-foot-2 Jetvig and redshirt freshman Katey Wrobel, also listed at 6-2, take over in the frontcourt for Alison Nash-Gerlach and Meghan Rettke, who combined to score 29.1 points and grab 17.4 rebounds per contest last season. Nash-Gerlach and Rettke both finished their careers with more than 1,000 points.

From Hawley, Minn., Jetvig made 17 starts in 28 games last season. Wrobel missed most of last year after having back surgery, but was able to start practicing with the team for the last couple months of the season.

“I looked up to Nash and Meghan. Last year, I got to work out with them and they made me better,” said Wrobel, from Fairchild, Wis. “I think the strength is that we all get along really well outside of basketball and hopefully that will help us out on the court.”

True freshmen Haley Thomforde is slated to start at point guard for MSUM, taking over for Krista Opheim. Opheim finished here career as the school’s all-time leader in assists.

“She’s very capable of shooting the 3, great pull-up jump shot, and she can get to the rim,” Nelson said. “Haley has the ability to make some plays for us, but is really going to be an offensive threat at the point guard spot.”

The Dragons were picked to finish sixth of 14 teams in the NSIC preseason coaches’ poll. Despite the youth, Nelson won’t use that as an excuse to not be successful.

“I expect us to win and that’s never going to change. There is a standard here that they have to live up to and they are well aware of that,” Nelson said. “We do have a standard. We’ve had 10 straight years of winning basketball and we expect to have 11.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com