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Cameron’s opening statement/The Red Line

March 17, 2011
By Brandon Veale -

It was a simple request made of every coach during the postgame press conference at this weekend's NCAA Midwest Regional: Please make an opening statement.

Yet, the irony of it was not lost on Michigan Tech women's basketball coach Kim Cameron, and she indicated as such after Friday's win against Lewis in the quarterfinals.

Earlier in the season at a Cager Club luncheon, Cameron spoke about her first game as the Huskies' head coach, an exhibition against Notre Dame at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind. There was no beginners' luck against the Fighting Irish. Tech had more turnovers (33) than points (30), and the result was a humbling 72-point defeat.

Cameron talked about being led through a series of hallways into a silent media room. It stayed that way until someone finally whispered in her ear that the media were waiting for her to make an opening statement.

At the beginning of the GLIAC season, 25 voters had a chance to predict the GLIAC women's basketball standings. Seventeen of them picked Grand Valley State to win the North Division. Three chose Northern Michigan and one Northwood. Four of them, 16 percent of the panel, thought Michigan Tech would win the division.

The Preseason All-GLIAC North Division teams included one Husky (Lindsey Lindstrom) on the second team.

If you had conducted a similar poll in the first few weeks of the season, I imagine that quite a few Tech fans would have been OK with modest accomplishments like having a home playoff game, maybe making the fringes of the NCAA Tournament, taking the lessons learned and applying them toward better days.

After all, this team lost six seniors, five starters and a coach. Tech doesn't have many rebuilding years in women's basketball, but this looked like one.

Conference play began in December with a 12-point win at Northern Michigan and was followed by nine more wins.

Sure, there were hiccups, like the Thanksgiving weekend loss at Concordia-St. Paul or a fourth-quarter fall-apart at Ferris. But the 2009-10 unit lost more conference games (two) and needed some miraculous finishes to do it.

Granted, the GLIAC was not nearly as good this year as it has been, but Tech went from picked to finish third in its division to five games better than the rest of the league.

As the postseason rolled around, I admit to being fearful that a relatively inexperienced team was going to come out and have the calamitous night that seemed to have escaped it in the regular season. Nope. Tiffin, Hillsdale and Ashland were dispatched in the GLIAC Tournament. Last weekend, Lewis was outmuscled, Drury was bombed from the outside and Wisconsin-Parkside was dominated on the block.

A lot of that comes down to coaching. By the end of this weekend, Cameron sounded like someone who had grown into her post quickly - a feisty and worthy successor who had made Michigan Tech basketball into her own image.

So next week at the Elite Eight, there may be good or bad outcomes, but as for opening statements, coach Cameron and the Huskies have made quite a few.



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