MARQUETTE, Mich. and BAY CITY, Mich. – The Northern Michigan women’s basketball team has been picked to finish fourth in the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, announced by the league on Monday. Makaylee Kuhn has also been selected to the Preseason First Team.
The Wildcats, who finished in fourth place a season ago, received 52 votes to slot in where they finished to end last season. Grand Valley State is the reigning regular season and tournament champion in the conference, as they are the favorites to repeat with 79 total points and seven first-place votes. Ferris State follows tightly behind with 73 points and the remaining three first-place votes.
2023-24 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1 Grand Valley State – 79 (7)
2 Ferris State – 73 (3)
3 Michigan Tech – 66
4 Northern Michigan – 52
5 Wayne State – 46
6 Parkside – 40
7 Saginaw Valley State – 37
8 Davenport – 22
9 Purdue Northwest – 19
10 Lake Superior State – 16
A season ago, the Wildcats went 15-13 overall and 10-8 in the GLIAC. Northern fell to Saginaw Valley State in the tournament quarterfinals and will look to continue to take steps in the right direction after improving its record in each of the past two seasons.
The Green and Gold carry over plenty of firepower to the new campaign, highlighted by three-time All-GLIAC First Teamer Makaylee Kuhn, who has again been selected to the Preseason First Team. The Hilbert, Wisconsin native currently sits at 1,470 career points, 229 back of the all-time lead at Northern Michigan. In 2022-23, Kuhn started all 28 contests and reached double figures in all but three games, averaging 16.3 ppg to go along with 7.4 rpg and 2.8 apg. She has also been near automatic at the charity stripe, going 87-100 (87%) a season ago. In her senior year, Kuhn will continue to be the go-to option for the Wildcats.
2023-24 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Teams
Rylie Bisballe, Grand Valley State
Ellie Droste, Grand Valley State
Chloe Idoni, Ferris State
Makaylee Kuhn, Northern Michigan
Bella Lenz, Michigan Tech
Paty Gallasova, Parkside
Lillee Gustafson, Davenport
Mallory McCartney, Ferris State
Dash Shaw, Purdue Northwest
Shea Tripp, Wayne State
2023-24 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year
Chloe Idoni, Ferris State
Along with Kuhn, 6’3 center Ana Rhude returns as a force under the basket, coming off of a season where she was recognized on the GLIAC All-Defensive Team. Rhude also started all 28 games, averaging 4.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 1.4 blocks a contest. Rhude was a key contributor to a Wildcat defense that allowed just 58.1 ppg last season, the second-best clip in the conference. Along with Rhude, Mackenzie Holzwart is back after her first full season controlling the point for the Wildcats. She averaged 9.5 ppg, which was second-best on the squad.
Northern averaged 60.3 ppg last season and will return 88.4% of its scoring from a season ago, including forward Abi Fraaza (6.9 ppg) and wing Sarah Newcomer (6.4 ppg). In addition, second-year head coach Casey Thousand has a season under her belt and has added assistant coach Jordan Sweeney, who brings collegiate head coach experience with him. The two of them have reinforced the roster from top to bottom, welcoming two transfers and seven newcomers in total.
Grad transfer Kennedy Litvinoff joins NMU from Saint Leo and sophomore Jacy Weisbrod, cousin of men’s basketball reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year Max Weisbrod, is also new to the team, coming from Division I Northern Colorado. Both are expected to play a key role on the wing for the ‘Cats. Freshman Braelyn Torres, a three-time All-State selection in high school, is expected to step in and contribute as a freshman as well.
The Wildcats have played one exhibition contest in the preseason, defeating Bay College 92-30. Northern will Division I UW-Green Bay for an exhibition on Wednesday, November 1. The regular season will begin in the UP for the ‘Cats, as they’ll face Lewis and William Jewell in the GLVC and GLIAC Challenge, hosted by Michigan Tech, on November 10 and 11.