FU women look to rely on speed this season

HANCOCK — Lacking a true post player, the Finlandia University women’s basketball will try to compensate with quickness and outside shooting this season.

The Lions haven’t had a big center for several years — a fact not lost on new coach John “Mo” Motherwell.

“We would have liked to have signed a taller center for the season,” Motherwell said recently. “But we weren’t able to, and we’re going to have to handle the post spot by committee.”

The new Lions skipper inherits a team that returns all but one player. Included among the returnees are the two leading scorers and rebounders from last year, seniors Julia Daavettila (Dollar Bay) and Kelsie Richards (Houghton).

The 5-foot-9 Daavettila has the talent to play all five spots on the floor, Motherwell said.

“Julia is a very versatile player; she can shoot, rebound and defend,” the Lions coach said. “She’s a very valuable player in our scheme.”

The 5-8 Richards will also get time inside, although she’s a fine 3-point shooter.

“Kelsie is more of a wing player, but she can play inside,” Motherwell noted, “For this year, we’ll have to use the talent we have there.”

Junior Haley Makela (Jeffers) will also “get lots of time inside.” The 5-10 Makela is a strong rebounder who needs to improve her shooting range.

The guard spots are being contested for by a number of players, including transfer student Lela Horne, who played at Vermillion Community College last year.

“Lela Horne has good quickness and she can handle the ball,” Motherwell said, adding that her sister Lola Horne, will join the team in the second semester.

Hancock High products Molly Berg and Taylor Pertile saw time a year ago in the backcourt. Both can play defense and shoot from long range.

Freshman Julia Nordstrom (Jeffers) is another good possibility to get time because of her ability to hit the 3-pointer.

“She (Nordstrom) has a lot of potential,” Motherwell said. “Once she gets used to college ball, she will do fine.”

Sophomore Jaycee Faccio (North Central) is also highly thought of by Motherwell.

“She (Faccio) can really shoot the basketball,” he said. 

Another player coming in at mid-season will be the 5-foot-9 MacKenzie Gardner. Sophomore Mia Glenn stands 5-foot-10 but has been slowed by injuries.

Motherwell says the FU schedule is a tough one.

“We’ll be playing six or seven teams that went to the playoffs last season,” he said. “Teams like Hope College, Olivet and UW-Oshkosh are really tough.”

But the new Finlandia skipper feels the Upper Peninsula offers good talent.

“We’re going to center our recruiting efforts in the U.P. and the lower Peninsula,” he said. “I feel there’s a lot of good players in those areas, and we’re going to go after it.”

FU will play its first regular season game on Nov. 15 at Lakeland College. The Lions first home opponent will be Dec. 3 versus UW-Oshkosh.