BSU to open 2002-03 campaign with four road games
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Nov. 20, 2002

Saturday, Nov. 23 @ St. Cloud State 6:00 p.m.

Bemidji State looks to turn the tide in recent season-openers. All time, BSU is 15-20 including two straight losses and dropping nine of the past 11. Last year’s loss at South Dakota State (89-52) broke a string of four seasons when the Beavers played in Bemidji to cap off a campaign.

The last win on the road to start a season was at Wisconsin-Superior, 74-58, Nov. 17, 1990. BSU head coaches are 3-4 in school history when taking to the court for the first time. Head coach Mike Power looks to continue a three-game winning streak of those who don the green and white for the first time.

In taking a glance at the 2002-03 Bemidji State University women’s basketball program, one may not recognize several names. In fact, of the 11 players on the current roster, four of them are newcomers to BSU with two more fresh recruits taking a red-shirt year due to knee injuries. In addition, a face-lift has occurred among the coaching ranks. Head coach Mike Power brings in a fresh attitude of hard work and intensity which has earned him a 213-170 (.556) overall record in 13 seasons at the collegiate level. In the mix, Amanda Went comes on board as the full-time assistant, while Paul Brunsdon joins second-year graduate assistant Jason Sobolik to round out the coaching staff.

Looking at last season, Bemidji State came on strong near the end in winning two of its final four games and ended up with a 5-22 overall record. The Beavers took Minnesota-Duluth, which finished 13-5 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, to overtime on Feb. 9, 2002 before bowing out in a 73-63 affair on the road. Two games later, BSU whipped Minnesota-Morris, 86-52, for its largest margin of victory on the season. Then, BSU took it to the wire vs. Concordia-St. Paul, which had the best winning percentage (.759) in the conference last year, only to lose by a count of 81-71. Overall, BSU won two out of its final four contests last season and will look to continue that momentum into this season.

This is the area where BSU will have the most depth and experience. Unfortunately, junior newcomer Shawne Koch (Clarence, Iowa) will red-shirt after suffering a knee injury. On the bright side, five of the seven BSU returners logged significant minutes last season and the most experienced of the group was senior captain Crystal Jones (Side Lake, Minn.), who is the leading returner in minutes/game (23.4) a season ago. In addition, she was second with 109 total rebounds and third in points per game (7.3) in 2001-02.

“We are looking for some great leadership from Jones,” coach Mike Power said. “She will bring a lot to the table with her speed, quickness and intelligence and she can really shoot the ball well.”

Senior Christi Goodhart (Manteca, Calif.) was second last season with a 8.1 ppg average and first among the Beavers with 86 field goals. Senior Katie Dale (Wilmar, Minn.), who started in 18 games and senior Katie Long (Mason City, Iowa), who appeared in 25, will add veteran leadership to the squad. Meanwhile, junior Yontel Handford (Milwaukee, Wis.) will be counted upon for her solid guard play as well.

Three transfers, two of which come from Power’s last coaching stint at Metro State, will be looked to for some immediate impact. Senior Kristy Caviness (Pamona, Calif.) is a player who Power says is someone who “will not turn the ball over nor is she flashy. She just gets the job done and puts the team in the right places.” The second Metro State product in sophomore Nicole Wright (Mandan, N.D.) “is one of those players that brings a lot of leadership, will work hard and do all those things that you ask her to do,” Power said. Junior Amber Thomas (Long Beach, Calif.), who was an all-region honoree twice at Mt. San Antonio College, will provide instant offense.

After having freshman Linsey Rucker (Killeen, Texas) go down in the off-season with a knee injury, the Beavers are looking at the inside presence of junior Amber Graf (Hammond, Wis.) and the sophomore tandem of Melissa Bessler (Lake George, Minn.) and Stacia Swanson (Sioux City, Iowa).

Graf returns as the leading game scorer from last year’s team (10.6 ppg) and Power sees her as one of those “go-to players in scoring. She also will be one of the players that we will look to try to get her some shots and get her involved in the offense.”

Bessler has tremendous potential as Power thinks that she is going to be “a really outstanding player. She will bring some intensity and tenacity to the defensive end in rebounding and blocking shots and she runs the floor well.”

With some work, Power notes that Swanson “has a really bright future as far as she can be a wonderful talent in this league. She does some really nice things and will make an impact on our program immediately.”

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).

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.

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.

Bemidji State has dropped five straight in the series after taking six out of seven including five in a row at one point. The last meeting was a 97-91 Huskies victory Dec. 12, 2001. In that contest, Amber Graf led the Beavers with 17 points on 6-9 shooting in 19 minutes of action. Crystal Jones chipped in 11 points while Christi Goodhart recorded a personal-best nine assists. The last time BSU has won in St. Cloud dates back nearly nine years. Dec. 21, 1993 saw the Beavers win 90-62 - a streak of nine games.

In All-Time Series...
BSU Largest Margin of Victory: 28 (90-62, 12/21/93)
SCSU Largest Margin of Victory: 70 (102-32, 1983)
BSU Highest Scoring Output: 93 (W, 93-84, 12/20/94)
SCSU Highest Scoring Output: 102 (W, 102-32, 1983)
BSU Lowest Scoring Output: 32 (L, 102-32, 1983)
SCSU Lowest Scoring Output: 31 2x (L, 44-31, 1974 & L, 44-31, 2/4/73)

vs. St. Cloud State (0-0, 0-0 NCC)
Dr. Lori Ulferts is in her ninth season with the Huskies and 18th as a collegiate head coach. She has compiled a 114-105 overall record for the North Central Conference institution.
St. Cloud State, picked to finish sixth in the ten-team league, came away with a 14-13 overall record and 9-9 NCC mark a season ago. The Huskies return nine letter winners including senior guards Celestine Frank and Jessica Abrahams and senior posts Andrea Bennett and Jonelle Streed. Abrahams returns with a 11.0 points per game average as she also led the squad with 35 three-pointers. Streed has appeared in 82 games during her three seasons and averaged 7.2 ppg and connected on 20 behind the arc. SCSU faces off against Minnesota-Duluth this Friday before welcoming the Beavers on Saturday.

Mike Power has a long history of resurrecting basketball programs with losing traditions into winners. The first-year Beaver 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.

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.