Coach of the Month Healy, SMU Set to Defend Home Court
In his 20th season at Saint Martin's, women's basketball head coach Tim Healy has been named GNAC Coach of the Month for February and has guided the Saints into the GNAC Championships.
In his 20th season at Saint Martin's, women's basketball head coach Tim Healy has been named GNAC Coach of the Month for February and has guided the Saints into the GNAC Championships.
Saint Martin's senior forward Chelsea Haskey has overcome adversity throughout her career to excel as the cornerstone of SMU's program.
Saint Martin's senior forward Chelsea Haskey has overcome adversity throughout her career to excel as the cornerstone of SMU's program.

Monday, March 3, 2014
by Evan O'Kelly, Media Relations Assistant

PORTLAND, Ore. – With the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Basketball Championships just days away, Saint Martin’s University is prepared to host the four-day, 10-game extravaganza for the third-straight season.

Tickets are being purchased, facility preparation and coordination is underway, and the entire SMU athletics staff is firing on all cylinders in anticipation of the tournament.

Tim Healy, SMU women’s basketball head coach, is in his third season helping out with the tournament, but this year his role will be a little bit different. For the first time since the GNAC Championships moved to a single location, SMU has landed a team in the field, and Healy will be on the sidelines coaching when action kicks off on Wednesday.

“It really means a significant amount to everyone around Lacey,” Healy commented on his women’s team earning the No. 6 seed to the tournament. “This year it was an absolute goal to make the championships, and I am really proud of the kids and what they’ve accomplished.”

SMU has won three games in a row heading into this week’s championship, and Healy was named GNAC Coach of the Month for February as the Saints sealed a postseason berth down the stretch. 


While the Saints have had their sights set on representing their home town in the GNAC Championships since the preseason, the rest of the conference was not convinced, as SMU was picked to finish eighth in the preseason coaches’ poll.

“We used that as motivation, and I had a feeling that we would be better than that,” Healy said regarding the low ranking by his peers in the preseason. “This whole season we have had to go out every day and prove that we were better than that, and that has been our mantra.” 

SMU hinted early on that it had the potential to be a top-six team, winning its first three conference games of the season. “We had lost a couple of critical games in terms of confidence over Thanksgiving break, so we regrouped and started over,” Healy remembered about the Saints’ hot start to their conference schedule.

It was around that time that Healy implemented a tactic that has been his go-to throughout his 20-year tenure at SMU. “We had just put in the matchup zone defense, and the first weekend we used that against our opponents was a turning point for sure.”

The defensive strategy that Healy imparted onto his squad is nothing new, as he has founded his entire career as a coach on the matchup zone mentality. Getting teams to fully buy into and accept the mentality is a different story however, and Healy recognized right away that this year’s group was unique in that respect.

“Not everyone can play with that set, you’ve got to be really smart and fully understand what it takes to play it,” Healy commented on the strategy. “This group in particular just clicked with it, really bought into the fact that they like this defense, and evolved as far as any group I’ve had in terms of understanding.”

The results are evident on the court, as no team in the GNAC has allowed fewer points per game this season than the Saints’ 60.4.

Most recently, SMU used its smothering defense to stun first-place Montana State Billings, as the Saints downed the Yellowjackets 69-59 on Feb. 22 in Lacey. “Our goal that night was to make them work really hard to score, knowing that they have so many good players,” Healy said regarding SMU’s game plan against MSUB. “I think we accomplished that, played a complete game on offense, and it was our best game from start-to-finish all season.”

The win snapped MSUB’s 11-game winning streak and clinched the No. 6 seed for SMU, fittingly reinforcing the notion that the Saints belong in the championships and can compete with any team in the GNAC.


“She has some fairly unorthodox footwork inside as a post player, and not many people gave her a chance to advance and compete at the collegiate level,” Healy said regarding senior forward Chelsea Haskey.

Not only has she competed, the 2010 Black Hills High School graduate has excelled into one of the top players in the conference. Haskey has served as the cornerstone for SMU this season, leading the team in points per game (13.0), rebounds (6.8), steals (40), and is tied for the team-high in blocks (32). 

“I have known Chelsea since she was young, as she grew up in the area, and there were a lot of naysayers so that makes me even more proud of what she has accomplished,” Healy said.

Haskey’s career has not unfolded without trial and tribulation, as she has overcome three ankle surgeries throughout her collegiate years. “She has had some real issues over the years, but has fought through it, and we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today without her,” Healy said. “Chelsea has been a very special player and person in our program.”

While Haskey has anchored the Saints, her supporting cast has stepped up and embraced the potential the team has to succeed. One player in particular who has burst onto the scene is Megan Wiedeman, whose emergence parallels the team’s shift into Healy’s defensive zone at the beginning of December.

“We started to see some flashes of things in her that we knew she had, but didn’t know if she was quite ready for,” Healy commented regarding the first hints that Wiedeman was uncorking her potential. “She has gained confidence, has a knack for rebounding, and is a really good shot blocker and rebounder.”

To date, Wiedeman is tied with Haskey for the team lead in blocks with 32 and is averaging just below the senior in rebounding at 6.7 boards per contest.

Healy cites a pair of nonconference victories against Hawaii-Hilo in mid-December as being a key in Wiedeman’s development. “She really went off in her first couple of starts, and the biggest factor was that she put together two or three games in a row where she made major contributions,” Healy commented on the wins in Hawaii that came amidst a six-game winning streak. “Those games helped her gain personal confidence, and certainly gave me more confidence in her entering GNAC play in January.”

Junior guards Angela Gelhar and Jori Skorpik have also played instrumental roles this season, as the former averages 10.6 points per game and the latter possesses many of the intangibles necessary for a team to excel in the formation the Saints currently play under. 

“Angie is a really dynamic athlete who is super quick, and we want the ball in her hands whenever the game is on the line,” Healy said regarding the guard. “She is difficult to guard and is a really good free-throw shooter as well.

“Jori is the biggest over-achiever I have ever coached,” Healy said of the 5’ 2” Kamiakin High School graduate. “She controls our offense and tempo, and has been a key factor to us despite that not being reflected in her stat line.”


When the lights inside Marcus Pavilion dim around 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday evening, SMU will gather itself for a final moment of focus before its first-round tournament matchup against No. 3 seed Alaska Anchorage. 

UAA currently ranks ninth in all of Division II in scoring offense with 81.8 points per game. The last time the teams met, the Saints silenced the Seawolves in a 56-46 home win in Lacey that marked the lowest point total of the season for UAA.

The game was no fluke, as SMU had beaten UAA earlier in the season 85-78 in Anchorage, a game in which Healy noted his team’s ability to adapt to the game situation. “The first time we played we caught them by surprise at their place, and they weren’t ready for the game we played,” Healy said. “The second game, we were supremely prepared defensively, and that really made a difference.”

Now, UAA heads to Lacey having won five of its final six regular season games, and will look to avenge its losses to SMU earlier this season.

“Ryan (McCarthy) is a good coach and is going to come up with a good game plan,” Healy said regarding UAA’s second-year head coach. “It will come down to us reevaluating where we are, and it will definitely be a tough ball game.”

With viewers tuned in from all around the GNAC, and playing in front of the entire city of Lacey on Wednesday, Healy’s Saints will do what they do best and defend their home court.