Gritty UAA Women will have targets on their jerseys as they look to defend GNAC crown

Since the arrival of UAA Women’s Basketball Head Coach Tim Moser six seasons ago, you can count on three things every year from the 12th ranked Seawolves.

Teams under his direction were going to be gritty, play tough defense, and make the NCAA postseason every season.

And with a 84 winning percentage (135-27 record at UAA), the highest for an active coach in Division II women’s basketball, why change a winning formula?

“I think the biggest thing is we focus on the things that win,” Moser said. “People get caught up in the offensive side of it and it’s something I haven’t bought into.

“I think it’s more about toughness, grit, and getting after it.”

This blueprint has led to the Seawolves being a perennial contender in the GNAC, West Region, and the national landscape of D-II women’s basketball.

This season looks to be similar and has already seen the Seawolves nearly unanimously picked to win the GNAC by the coaches (the only vote not going to the Seawolves was from Moser himself). This comes on the heels of UAA becoming the first GNAC postseason champions after finishing second in the regular season standings. The Seawolves also advanced to the second round of the NCAA postseason, a point in which they have now accomplished the past five straight years.

- Advertisement -

Returning this year is senior forward Hanna Johansson. A preseason All-American candidate, Johansson averaged 13.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game on way to her First Team All-GNAC achievement last year.

In an already stellar career, this Gothenburg, Sweden native has her sights set and only cares about one award in her final season in green and gold: a national title.

“The most important thing to me is the team and that we win,” Johannson said. “It’s fun to get something that’s for yourself but it’s not the most important thing at all.”

Figure on junior forward Alysa Horn to continue her growth as a vital part of the team this season.

Fresh off a 2nd team All-GNAC selection, the 6’0” Kodiak native put up numbers of 11.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game last season.

Other notable returners include senior guard/forward Tijera Matthews and senior forward Kaylie Robison.

Mathhews, who averaged 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game last year, should be an even bigger threat this year offensively. Robison will continue to be the defensive specialist of the team and add energy off the bench. This 6’0” Sandy, Utah native averaged 5.4 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year.

Though UAA stocked up on what looks to be an impressive collection of newcomers this season, Moser knows that it will be this core of returners who will be looked to first and foremost this year.

“The longer I’ve been in this game, I think that the returners are the key,” Moser said. “They’re the ones who have been through the battles and understand the program.”

However, newcomers could quickly make names for themselves at UAA as the season goes on.

Freshman guard Gritt Ryder, a former Denmark Under-18 National Team member, averaged 16.1 points, 7.0 Rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals for her country at 2010 European Under-18 Championships.

Junior guard Bruna Deichmann could be a starter in the early season. This 5’9” transfer from the College of Eastern Utah posted 16.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game in her sophomore season last year.

Junior guard Haley Holmstead transfers to Anchorage from Salt Lake Community College and looks to be a pure shooter for the UAA offense. A back-to-back 1st team All-NJCAA selection, this American Fork, Utah native averaged 23.6 points last year, ranking her third nationally at the community college level.

At the guard position, UAA also will have sophomore Kylie Burns (averaged 2.0, 1.2 rebounds per game last season), junior Sasha King (7.0 points, 2.6 assists in three games last season before season-ending ACL injury), junior Jordan Martin (0.6 points, 0.7 rebounds per game), senior Torle Nenbee (redshirted last year), freshman Katie Richens, freshman Alli Madison and freshman Jessica Madison.

For centers, the Seawolves also have sophomore Morgan Lee (1.0 points, 10 rebounds per game) and junior transfer Miriam Seale as options.

With a solid, talent-filled roster and the GNAC crown, the Seawolves know they will get the opposition’s best game every night they step on the court.

“I think it says something about the pride and respect our opponents give us, which is nice, but it means nothing,” Moser said. “It just puts a bigger target on our back.”