HOUGHTON - For the first time in five years, the Michigan Tech women's basketball team failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season.
Upon review, a lack of creation on offense - with the obvious exception of point guard Sam Hoyt - may have been the primary culprit. The Huskies averaged 60 points per game in their seven losses and when Hoyt experienced an off game, the offense had a tendency to stall and rely on three-point attempts.
Enter freshman shooting guard MacKenzie Perttu.
The Green Bay Preble product's skill set might make her the missing piece to what was at times a frustrating puzzle for Tech coach Kim Cameron. And Cameron is hoping the completed picture will show yet another NCAA Tournament appearance.
"We haven't had a player that can score as easily as she has can in a little while," Cameron said. "Her ability to score the basketball is far beyond her years. Offensively we will expect her to be ready to play at the college level right away. That may not be fair, but we expect her skill set to translate right away."
When asked to pinpoint what Perttu did so well offensively, Cameron listed, well, everything.
"She has a scorer's mentality," Cameron said. "She can get to the basket, she can shoot the three. She makes her free throws, she can handle if it we need her to. Scoring is really her mindset. I think that is fantastic, it is really going to help us."
Perttu set the Green Bay metro scoring record in high school with 1,626 career points and was named a First Team All-State selection in her senior year.
At 5-foot-9, her decent height will complement the shorter Hoyt, nicely, limiting opposing defense's options.
"I have to work on it obviously, but I have always felt good shooting," Perttu said. "It has always just kind of been that way, no matter where I am playing."
Perttu made up her mind early in the recruiting process, becoming sold on Tech after the first visit. Cameron can thank the rest of her team for that.
"When I visited I really liked playing with the girls," Perttu said. "It was all kickouts for threes, and moving the ball and that's what I like.
"After that visit, it was just like, 'Yeah, this is right.'"
While Cameron shied away from saying she "expected" Perttu to crack the rotation early, she made it clear she would not be surprised to see the freshman play a major role this season.
"We recruited her with the hope that she can compete for minutes this year," Cameron said. "You never know what anybody can do until they get here, but she has been ready for the college game for a long time. She will compete for a spot."
For her part, Perttu just wants to put the work in once full practice starts Oct. 15 and then go from there.
But she too, believes she can have an impact this season.
"I am hoping so," Perttu said. "I am going to work hard and if I earn it, I'll be ready."