FAIRBANKS—The Alaska Nanooks women’s basketball team will enter the 2012-13 season with a grudge on its shoulder.
And there’s a good reason for it.
The Nanooks were picked to finish last in the 10-team Great Northwest Athletic Conference in the preseason coach’s poll.
With a dozen new players, including eight transfers, third-year Alaska coach Cody Burgess says there is a new attitude this season.
“They are fighters and contenders and when you have that hunger for wins and to be successful, anything can happen,” Burgess said in a press release, after the Nanooks received just 14 points in the poll. “We’re out to prove people wrong and frankly a lot of the women are ready to make history.”
Western Washington edged Simon Fraser as the league favorite as the Vikings received seven first-place votes and 96 points to the Clan's three first-place votes and 93 points. Following the top two were Seattle Pacific (76), Montana State-Billings (63), Alaska Anchorage (57) and Northwest Nazarene (56). Rounding out the poll were Central Washington (47), Western Oregon (30), Saint Martin's (18) and the Nanooks.
Burgess will depend on the incoming class to meld with the returning players to produce a winning combination.
“They're more mature and experienced, so they know how hard they have to work,” Burgess said. “They committed to this program and team hoping to make that difference. They're here to be successful and be champions.
“When you're a veteran with experience under your belt that transition into a new team and conference is a lot smoother and you're ready for the challenge,” she added.
The Nanooks are coming off a 6-22 season, 2-16 in the GNAC, but Burgess likes what she’s seen since practice began on Oct. 16.
“We're adding more every day and they are becoming a team in the sense that you have more offense, defense, a full-court press, a zone and some traps and all the sudden you're an entire program, not an open-gym type of player,” Burgess said. “We look forward to getting better every day.”
Nanooks fans will get their first look at the team at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the annual Blue/Gold scrimmage.
The first game of the season is at 7 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Patty Center, when the Nanooks entertain the Colorado School of Mines.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.