MARQUETTE, Mich. and BAY CITY, Mich. – Under the leadership of a new head coach, a handful of returning talent, and welcoming some exciting freshmen and transfers, the Northern Michigan University women’s basketball team is set to return to action for the 2022-2023 season.

NMU finished 12-16 overall and 7-13 in the conference a season ago, taking the eighth seed in the GLIAC Tournament. Heading into the season, the Wildcats have been picked to finish seventh in the GLIAC Preseason Poll, as voted on by coaches, the league announced on Tuesday. The ‘Cats received 38 total points in the tally. Grand Valley State took the top spot, receiving nine of a possible 10 first-place votes and 81 total points.

2022-23 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll
1. Grand Valley State, 81 (9)
2. Ferris State, 72 (1)
3. Michigan Tech, 59
4. Saginaw Valley State, 52
5. Parkside, 50
6. Wayne State, 44
7. Northern Michigan, 38
8. Purdue Northwest, 28
9. Davenport, 14
10. Lake Superior State, 12

Junior guard Makaylee Kuhn highlights the returning core for the ‘Cats. Kuhn has been named to the GLIAC Preseason First Team ahead of the 2022-2023 season after receiving All-GLIAC first-team honors for the second time in as many years, as well as being recognized as NMU’s Female Athlete of the Year. In the 2021-2022 season, Kuhn played in 27 of a possible 28 games, where she was a starter in all 27 games she played. Kuhn led the ‘Cats in total minutes played (798), average minutes played (29.6), Field-goals made (160) and attempted (360), free throws made (82) and attempted (107), total points (423), average points per game (15.7), defensive rebounds (125) and total rebounds (164), assists (81), and steals (33). In 2021-2022 she averaged 15.7 PPG, a .444 FG%, and a .356 3P%.

2022-23 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Teams
First Team
Makaylee Kuhn, Northern Michigan
Ellie Mackay, Michigan Tech
Alyssa Nelson, Parkside
Emily Spitzley, Grand Valley State
Kaitlyn Zarycki, Saginaw Valley State

Second Team
Ellie Droste, Grand Valley State
Chloe Idoni, Ferris State
Mallory McCartney, Ferris State
Alex Rondorf, Michigan Tech
Dash Shaw, Purdue Northwest

2022-23 GLIAC Women’s Basketball Preseason Player of the Year
Alyssa Nelson, Parkside

In the offseason, Northern Michigan University named Casey Thousand as its new head women’s basketball coach. Thousand returns to the NMU sideline after serving as an assistant coach from 2016-2018 and associate coach in the 2018-2019 season. For the past three seasons, Thousand has served as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). While at UIS, Thousand led the Prairie Stars to an improved record each season. UIS had an overall mark of 17-11 in 2021-22, its best overall season in 23 seasons with a program-record 11 wins in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). Hosting and winning a first-round GLVC tournament game, defeating Division I Bradley University on the road, and seeing two student-athletes recognized on the All-GLVC teams were among the other notable accomplishments for the Prairie Stars this past season with Thousand at the helm.

Coach Thousand and co. return 11 athletes, with key players in Kayla Tierney, Vivianne Jende, Mackenzie Holzwart, Ana Rhude, and Elena Alaix. In the 2021-2022 season, Tierney appeared in all 28 contests for the Wildcats, putting up 146 points, 26 assists, and averaging 22.6 minutes a game. Jende suited up in all 28 matchups for the ‘Cats, playing a crucial role in the paint putting up 144 points, 21 assists, 77 rebounds, and averaging 18.5 minutes a night. Holzwart dressed in 25 games where she put up 82 points, 31 assists, and averaged 17.5 minutes a game. Rhude dressed in all 28 games, putting up 116 points, 20 assists, and 126 rebounds and averaging 14.4 minutes a night. Alaix appeared in 26 games, where she put up 94 points, 6 assists, 70 rebounds, and averaged 13.1 minutes a night.

NMU dipped into the transfer portal in the offseason, adding Sophomores Abi Fraaza and Hallie Marshall. Fraaza comes from Minnesota Crookston where she played 21 games for Golden Eagles, scoring 210 points with a .452 FG% and .294 3PT%, 12 assists, 123 rebounds, and averaged 22.1 minutes a game. Abi was a four-time First Team All-Conference honoree in high school, named a WBCA All-Star, a two-time First Team All-Conference honoree in volleyball, and a four-time recipient in softball. Marshall comes from Hope College. In high school, she was named Second Team All-Conference her freshman year. In her sophomore year, she was selected to the U.P Second Team and named First Team All-Conference. In her junior year, she was named U.P Dream Team and honored as Division 4 U.P Player of the Year. Marshall was also named Detroit Free Press Division 4 First Team Captain. She was selected to the First Team All-U.P her senior year as well as AP All-State First Team and Division 3 Detroit Free Press Second Team All-State. Surpassed 1,000 career points.

The Wildcats welcome two freshmen to the roster with high expectations in Sarah Newcomer and Reide Osterman. A four-year varsity basketball starter at Pewaukee High School, Newcomer helped her team to two conference championships and two state tournament appearances. She is a four-time All-Conference player, including Player of the Year honors her senior year. Newcomer is a two-time WBCA First Team All-State honoree for Division 2. She scored 1,053 career points and set a school record with 191 made 3-pointers. Osterman was a state semi-finalist at Baraga High School, where she was named Miss- U.P. in basketball.

With a new coach at the helm with new and returning talent, there’s a lot to look forward to with the NMU program heading into the season. The season begins on November 11 and 12 as NMU will take part in the GLVC/GLIAC Challenge with matchups against Lewis University and William Jewell College.