Beavers Travel to Michigan - Take On Finlandia & MTU
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Dec. 10, 2002

Friday, Dec. 13 @ Finlandia (MI)    6:00 p.m. CST
Saturday, Dec. 14 @ Michigan Tech    3:00 p.m. CST

For the first time since beginning the season, BSU has finally had time to breathe. The seven day layover from its game vs. South Dakota State last Friday and now coming up against Finlandia this Friday is the longest break the Beavers have had. In the span of one week, BSU played Lees-McRae on Friday, Nov. 30, Barry the following night, MSU-Mankato four days later (Wednesday), then came home to host #1 South Dakota State on Friday to cap off the week. Don’t forget that the first two games were in Miami Shores, Fla. and Mankato’s game was on the road after BSU got snowed in on Monday in Chicago trying to travel back from the South.

In Bemidji, Minn., Bemidji State could not stop the long-range bombs on the part of #1 South Dakota State (5-0, 0-0 NCC) on Friday as the visitors knocked down 13 in the 85-67 BSU loss.

Bemidji State led by as many as five out of the gates, 8-3, but SDSU fired back with a 30-15 run going into the locker room. The SDSU lead would expand to 27 on two occasions in the second half with the last being 62-35 at 13:59. However, the Beavers gave a last chance push as they evaporated that margin to 16 with 3:50 to play. Then the game got a bit sloppy as both teams combined to shoot 10 foul shoots to wrap up the game with SDSU sailing on to the non-conference victory.

BSU converted 78.3% of its free throw attempts (18-23) and totaled 16 steals, both statistics being better than South Dakota State. However, the Beavers shot just 36.2 per cent from the floor and got out-rebounded 42-34.

Junior forward Amber Graf (Hammond, Wis.) led the green and white with 22 points with sophomore forward Stacia Swanson (Sioux City, Iowa) chipping in 13 and a game-high nine rebounds and four steals. Despite being plagued with four fouls, sophomore forward Melissa Bessler (Lake George, Minn.) added eight points and six boards.

Amber Graf has now gone back-to-back contests with at least 20 points as she had a personal-best 24 at Mankato on Wednesday and 22 against South Dakota State on Friday...Stacia Swanson has tallied 10+ points in all five of her games as a Beaver this year...BSU has been outrebounded in all five contests in 2002-03...Bemidji State has dropped its last three home-openers after Friday’s loss to SDSU...In having two fewer (continued on page two)

PROBABLE STARTERS (based on previous game’s lineup)
Bemidji State (3-2, 0-0 NSIC)    Finlandia (5-5)
#20 Christi Goodhart    G    5-8    Sr.    #10 Jessica Koski    G    5-9    So.
#32 Crystal Jones    G    5-7    Sr.    #12 Trista Wills    G    5-5    Jr.
#34 Amber Graf    C    6-1    Jr.    #22 Beth Koski    F    5-10    Jr.
#33 Stacia Swanson    F    5-11    So.    #30 Delsie Luokkala    F    5-10    Jr.
#42 Melissa Bessler    F    5-11    So.    #32 Debbie Wesa    F    5-8    Jr.
Michigan Tech (3-3, 1-0 GLIAC)
#24 Annie Madden    G    5-10    Sr.
#43 Maria Schneider    G    5-8    Fr.
#13 Andrea Novak F 6-0 Jr.    
#12 Emily McClone    F    5-9    Sr.
#40 Randi Miller    F    5-10    Jr.

turnovers than the Jackrabbits, that was the first time BSU has lost this season when achieving that statistic - the first in four contests...The Jackrabbits are 13-0 all-time against the Beavers

Entering the 2002-03 campaign, junior forward Amber Graf (Hammond, Wis.) is primed to continue her play from last season. League coaches have taken notice of her as well as she is a 2002-03 preseason “Player to Watch.” Graf leads the BSU returners with 12 double-digit point efforts in 20 games last campaign and was tops on the squad in free throws made (48), free throw percentage (.800) and points per game (10.6). In the conference, she ranked 18th in ppg and 19th in rebounding per contest (4.9) in all games played. A transfer from the U.S. Naval Academy, Graf went six consecutive contests with 10+ points last season and against Minnesota-Morris (1-11-02), she tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds for her first career double-double. In addition, Graf established a school single-game record for accuracy with a five-for-five performance behind the arc against Winona State (1-18-02).

This season, Graf tallied 13 points on 6-12 shooting in her junior debut against St. Cloud State (11-23-02). Graf has reached double-digits in scoring in all five games this season including a career-best 24 against MSU-Mankato (12-4-02) and she followed that up with 22 vs. #1 South Dakota State (12-6-02). In the two BSU wins over Lees-McRae (11-29-02) and Barry (11-30-02), Graf totaled 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists to earn Comfort Inn “On the Beach” Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament honors. So far, she holds the scoring lead with a 17.4 ppg. With her back-to-back 20+ scoring efforts last week, Graf moved from 13th to seventh on the conference scoring list.

Senior guard Crystal Jones (Side Lake, Minn.) will return as the leader on the court this season as she was voted on by her teammate’s as team captain. Last season, Jones led the squad twice in points and tallied double-digits in points on ten occasions. Jones opened up the season by scoring 10+ in three of the first four contests and was second on the squad with 22 three-point field goals made and 24 total steals. In addition, BSU was 3-0 when she grabbed seven or more boards. Jones takes her hard work beyond the hard wood as seen her 4.0 grade point average she maintained both semesters last year.

The senior captain has provided some invaluable leadership this season. Jones is second on the team in made three-pointers (4), offensive rebounds (11) and steals (9). She went for a season-high 13 points in the win over Barry (FL) on Nov. 30, 2002 and also shot at a .714 clip (5-7), which is a BSU season-high. Jones has led the team once in both assists and steals for a single game.

What a debut! In the season-opener against St. Cloud State (11-23), sophomore forward Stacia Swanson (Sioux City, Iowa) hit for 17 points and 15 rebounds. The Metro State (CO) University transfer shot 6-15 from the floor, 5-5 from the free throw line, had three steals and an assist. Swanson had a double-double by halftime (10 points-10 rebounds).

As if that was not good enough, Swanson notched 37 points, 15 rebounds, 10 steals and four assists in the two wins down in Florida. She was named to the Comfort Inn “On the Beach” Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament squad and those performances earned her NSIC Co-Player of the Week accolades for Nov. 25. Then in a sub-par effort by her standards, she posted 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in the 67-59 win over MSU-Mankato (12-4-02).

Swanson is first on the club in rebounding (9.4 rpg), minutes a game (32.2), free throw percentage (.773 - 17-22 FT) and steals (19) and second on the club in scoring (15.4 ppg). She stands first in the league with 3.75 steals a game and second with her rebounding average. Swanson has led the team four times this season in rebounds in a game.

Sophomore forward Melissa Bessler (Lake George, Minn.) is in her second season in a Beaver uniform after leading the club in rebounding (5.1) last season. In 2001-02, led the team seven times in rebounding and notched BSU’s single game high for rebounds (16) in the 84-67 victory over Winona State on Feb. 23, 2002. That same game she tallied 14 points for her first career double-double.

This campaign has seen Bessler improve since the first game. In the season-opener against St. Cloud State (11-23-02), Bessler came off the bench and fouled out in nine minutes of action as she had one point on 0-3 shooting. Since then, she has been in the starting line-up in all four contests and tallied a personal-best 14 points in a season-high 32 minutes against MSU-Mankato (12-4-02). She followed that up with eight points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists vs. South Dakota State (12-6-02). Right now, she is tops on the team and third in the conference in blocks per game (1.50) and holds a 6.2 scoring average, good for fourth on the team.

Three BSU players have accrued double-doubles in points and rebounds in their careers. Melissa Bessler leads the way with two, one coming this season, while Amber Graf and Stacia Swanson have one apiece.

Melissa Bessler (14 points-16 rebounds)    vs. Winona State, 2-23-02
Melissa Bessler (14 points-10 rebounds)    vs. MSU-Mankato, 12-4-02
Amber Graf (12 points-13 rebounds)    vs. UM-Morris, 1-11-02
Stacia Swanson (17 points-15 rebounds)    vs. St. Cloud State, 11-23-02

The Beavers are playing some pretty solid defense as evidence in their conference rankings in two important defensive categories. They sit fourth in both scoring defense (69.2 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.391 - 91-233 FG). Both statistics are good through all games played through Dec. 9. Also, BSU has six players that are in the top-20 in either steals or blocks including the league leader (Swanson) in steals per game as she averages 3.75 thefts a game.

Seven players are recognized thus far among the league leaders in stats through all games played (through Dec. 9): Stacia Swanson is first in steals per game (3.75), second in rebounds per game (9.5), eighth in points per game (16.0), 18th in field goal percentage (.448 - 26-58 FG) and 19th in free throw percentage (.714 - 10-14 FT); Amber Graf is seventh in points per game (16.2), 15th in free throw percentage (.750 - 12-16 FT), tied for 16th in blocks per game (0.50), 17th in field goal percentage (.456 - 26-57 FG) and tied for 20th in rebounds per game (5.0); Kristy Caviness is tied for seventh in steals per game (2.00) and tied for 15th in assists per game (2.75); Melissa Bessler is third in blocks per game (1.50) and tied for 19th in steals per game (1.50); Christi Goodhart is tied for 15th in assists per game (2.75); Crystal Jones is tied for seventh in steals per game (2.00) and Katie Dale is tied for 19th in steals per game (1.50).

ALL-TIME SERIES: vs. Finlandia (MI) 0-0 // vs. Michigan Tech (4-9)
Bemidji State and Finlandia (MI) will be meeting each other for the first time in school history.

The Huskies have taken the last six encounters and nine of 10 in the overall series. The last meeting on Dec. 20, 2001 was a 86-46 Michigan Tech victory in Bemidji, Minn. In that contest, BSU shot 34.9 per cent from the floor (15-43) and turned the ball over 29 times. Amber Graf tallied 12 points to lead BSU and she added seven rebounds.
In All-Time Series...
BSU Largest Margin of Victory:    32 (84-52, 11/22/86)
MTU Largest Margin of Victory:    61 (98-37, 12/17/00)
BSU Highest Scoring Output:    84 (W, 84-52, 11/22/86)
MTU Highest Scoring Output:    98 (W, 98-37, 12/17/00)
BSU Lowest Scoring Output:    37 (L, 98-37, 12/17/00)
MTU Lowest Scoring Output:    52 (L, 84-52, 11/22/86)

vs. Finlandia (MI) (5-5, 0-0)
Finlandia University is in it’s fourth year of NCAA membership as it has gone 44-33 overall since 1999-2000. Head coach Steve Nordstrom, who takes over the program for the first time, returns three starters from last season’s 14-9 club.

The Lions got off to a blistering 4-0 start with wins over the likes of Viterbo (WI) and Northland Baptist as they won by an average of 17 points. After swapping a win and a loss, FU now has dropped four straight losing by an average margin of 27 points. Two of those losses have been to Michigan Tech (68-50) and Southwest State (69-51).

Finlandia has numerous scoring threats with Beth Koski leading the charge with 17.6 points per game. She is followed by Delsie Luokkala (14.6 ppg), Jessica Koski (10.7 ppg), Trista Wills (10.1 ppg) and Debbie Wesa (8.4 ppg). Koski shoots .474 per cent (45-95) from the field and Wills leads the squad in long-range bombs connecting on 23-71 (.474) behind the arc. The Koski sisters are one and two in rebounding with Jessica averaging 6.6 per game and Beth grabbing 6.2 a contest.

vs. Michigan Tech (3-3, 1-0 GLIAC)
After dropping two contests at the Quincy (FL) Tipoff Classic, including a 77-68 affair to Winona State, to open up the season, MTU has taken three of its last four. Most recently, #2 North Dakota defeated the Huskies by a count of 90-67 on Saturday.

Darla Olson, who is in her fifth season at Michigan Tech, maintains a 96-24 overall record. Olson has 99 career coaching victories. The fifth-year coach, who owns the best winning percentage (.786) in school history, will shoot for No. 100 vs. UMD on Wednesday (Dec. 11).

Andrea Novak, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago, puts up 16.5 points per game in 2002-03 to lead the club. Her .609 field goal percentage (42-69) is first among the regulars as well. She set a new career high with 29 points in Saturday’s (Dec. 7) game vs. #2 North Dakota. The 6-0 forward was 11-of-20 from the field and 8-of-10 from the free throw line in the game. Novak finished with 53 points in three games last week. Annie Madden adds 13.0 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per contest and is 14-27 (.519) from three-point range. She scored in double figures in all three Tech games last week.

Mike Power, who is 216-172 (.557) in his 14th year, has a long history of resurrecting basketball programs with losing traditions into winners. The first-year coach comes here after a four-year stay at Metropolitan State College in Denver, Colo. where he posted a 56-52 record, setting a school record for best winning percentage by a head coach in his first two years (.636). Power’s teams finished in the top seven in the 14-team Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference three of his four years at the helm, making the RMAC Tournament three times.

Prior to his stay at Metro State, Power resurrected the Briar Cliff College program in Sioux City, Iowa. Power inherited an 0-29 team and in six seasons there posted a 127-73 record - including 93-17 over his final three seasons - and made three consecutive NAIA Division II National Tournament appearances. He led the Chargers to Elite Eight appearances in 1996 and 1997. Power’s teams posted two consecutive 30-win seasons at Briar Cliff, a 37-1 march in 1996-’97 which included a school-record 32-0 unbeaten regular season and a 37-0 record before suffering the first loss, and 31-4 in 1997-’98. Power developed three All-America players at Briar Cliff and won three consecutive NAIA Independent Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors.

Power also turned around a program with a losing history during a three-year stay at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Neb. After a 5-20 finish during his first year at the helm, Power had built a program with a winning record by his third year when the Prairie Wolves finished 15-11. Under Power’s watch, Wesleyan led the nation (NCAA Division III) in scoring during the 1990-’91 season and also led the nation in three-point field goals per game in both 1989-’90 and 1990-’91.

Power also has experience coaching at the high school level, spending three seasons as an assistant coach at Pius X High School in Lincoln, Neb. from 1985-’88 and one year as head coach and physical education teacher at Gothenburg High School in Gothenburg, Neb. in 1991-’92.

The eighth head coach in the history of BSU women’s basketball earned a bachelor of science degree in social science from the University of Nebraska in 1988 and a master of physical education from Nebraska in 1994.

Walking the sidelines with Power will be first-year assistant Amanda Went, second-year graduate assistants Jason Sobolik and Paul Brunsdon.

In the three BSU wins this season, the Beavers have given themselves a legitimate shot of winning in the second half based on the halftime scores. Twice, the Beavers went into the intermission with a lead, albeit slim ones at one and two points, and once trailed by a mere two points to Lees-McRae. The second half has seen the Beavers outscore their opponents by a total of 17 points - five to LMC, six to Mankato and seven to Barry.

One glaring statistic that favors the green and white is turnover differential. BSU forced 31 vs. Lees-McRae, 23 against Barry and 24 at Mankato for a total of 78 while committing 55 themselves. Opposing teams are frustrated due to the full-court trapping defense that coach Power has installed while having an 11 player rotation. Overall, BSU has 75 steals on the season while the opposing teams have 48.

Looking at BSU’s first nine non-conference opponents of the season, four are recognized in the national or regional polls from a season ago. South Dakota State will visit Bemidji after the Beavers travel to the Barry University Tournament and to North Central Conference programs St. Cloud State and MSU-Mankato. SDSU posted a 28-9 overall record in 2001-02 and finished third in the final edition of the USA Today/ESPN/WBCA Division II Women’s Basketball Poll. The next test will come Dec. 14th at Michigan Tech, which was 10th in the final Great Lakes Region poll last season. A week later, the University of North Dakota will be the opponent in Grand Forks as the Fighting Sioux were 12th in the final national poll.

As far as the NSIC is concerned, the Beavers will have to face the 2001-02 NSIC regular season champions in Southwest State on the road in the conference-opening weekend. To make things just as difficult, BSU has to travel to UM-Duluth and Northern State in mid-January before both programs come to Bemidji. Both squads finished with a 13-5 conference slate, which tied Concordia-St. Paul for second in the league. The Golden Bears are the only team from the top four conference finishers from last season that Bemidji State has the luxury of hosting first.

“ We play one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the league,” Power said. “We have to go to North Dakota and Michigan Tech, which right there will be in the top five in the country. Then, we play the team that won our region (South Dakota State) last year, who has everybody back for our first game at home.”

According to the 2002-03 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Women’s Basketball Preseason Coaches Poll, the Beavers were chosen ninth with 31 votes in the preseason coaches poll. The league’s champion from last season in Southwest State was narrowly picked as the top team with 85 votes. BSU ended ninth in the NSIC as it went 3-15 in league play last season.

Concordia-St. Paul was second (84), Minnesota-Duluth third (77), Northern State fourth (62), MSU Moorhead fifth (56), Wayne State (Neb.) sixth (48), Minnesota-Crookston seventh (43), Winona State eighth (36) and Minnesota-Morris rounding out the list (18). Both SSU, which is #10 in the Women’s Division II Bulletin Preseason Top 25, and C-SP, which received five first-place votes, are recognized on the national level.

As far as the NSIC is concerned, the Beavers will have to face Southwest State on the road in the conference-opening weekend, Dec. 29. To make things just as difficult, BSU has to travel to UM-Duluth and Northern State in mid-January before both programs come to Bemidji. Both squads finished with a 13-5 conference slate, which tied Concordia-St. Paul for second in the league. The Golden Bears are the only team from the top four conference finishers from last season that Bemidji State has the luxury of hosting first.

The BSU Gymnasium, which seats 2,200, was originally constructed in 1959. Almost a year of work came to fruition as the physical education complex, the all-encompassing building that houses the BSU Gymnasium, was dedicated on January 4, 1960 by Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman in front of a packed crowd. This large building contains the gym, a swimming pool, classrooms and faculty offices.

The BSU Gymnasium hosts all Bemidji State University volleyball matches, men’s and women’s basketball games, as well as area high school playoff games. In addition, there are events ranging from concerts and recitals to faculty meetings and commencement ceremonies that take place there.

Not only does it house an array of activities, but perhaps more importantly it gives a distinct “home-court” advantage for the athletic squads that use it. BSU fans and boosters of all ages are regularly seen sporting the green and white colors in peculiar styles.

All tickets for BSU home events can be purchased at the gate or by calling 218-755-2045. Ticket prices are as follows: $5 general admission, $2 senior citizens/non-BSU students, $1 under-12 and BSU students with valid ID are free.

Voice of the Beavers Shaun Michaels returns for his fourth year behind the mic as Bemidji State continues its broadcast agreement with R.P. Broadcasting of Bemidji. Michaels, who also hosts the morning show on Real Country 98.3, provides the Beavers with one of the most enthusiastic young radio voices in college athletics today. Brian Bisonette provides expert analysis and color commentary.

KKBJ is scheduled to provide live coverage of select Beaver women’s basketball games and also will have broadcasts available for any potential post-season contests. Mark your calenders for three contests to be aired on KKBJ: Dec. 20 vs. St. Cloud State, Jan. 3 vs. UM-Crookston and Jan. 4 vs. MSU Moorhead. The SCSU contest will be begin at 6:00 p.m. while the other two start at 5:30 p.m.

Additionally, these game broadcasts will be streamed live over the Internet via KKBJ’s web site. Broadcasts are available to Windows, Macintosh and UNIX computer users and are distributed in RealAudio format (requires RealOne player, available as a free download at
For more information or to listen to the Internet audio broadcasts, point your web browser to:

Internet listeners should be aware that server limitations allow only 120 concurrent listeners to BSU’s audio broadcasts. Internet audio broadcasts do not begin until approximately five minutes prior to the scheduled starting time of the pre-game show.