UAA Wins AT&T Classic, Named Team of the Week
UAA's Alli Madison (4) and Kiki Robertson sandwich a Cameron player during the Seawolves' 86-70 victory last week.
UAA's Alli Madison (4) and Kiki Robertson sandwich a Cameron player during the Seawolves' 86-70 victory last week.

Monday, December 23, 2013

PORTLAND, Ore. – With a youthful roster on hand for Alaska Anchorage women’s basketball head coach Ryan McCarthy’s second season at the helm, many believed the Seawolves would not challenge for a Great Northwest Athletic Conference title. Nothing made this more evident than UAA being picked to finish sixth in the 2013 preseason coaches’ poll, after the team placed fourth a season ago.

“We were a little surprised by the preseason poll, because I feel that we have more talent than last season and that we are much deeper,” McCarthy commented on the team’s placement.

Since the release of the preseason rankings no GNAC team has played better than UAA, which has begun its season 9-1 and won four straight games. Most recently, the Seawolves won a pair of home games in their own AT&T Hoops Classic holiday tournament, earning the team GNAC Team of the Week honors.

“We feel really good about where our team is, and we are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” McCarthy said. “We definitely have a lot of momentum, and I can’t think of a team that has played a tougher preseason than us.” 

McCarthy referenced the Seawolves’ two-game bout against a pair of NCAA Division I opponents in UC Riverside and Georgetown, as UAA’s lone loss of the season was a 92-78 defeat at the hands of the Hoyas.

“We had a really good preseason and we don’t need to make any huge changes,” McCarthy commented on the stiff competition that has prepared his team for GNAC play. “Our goal is to win the GNAC, and I think the culture at UAA of competing for championships is why these ladies decided to come here.”

Stepping into the spotlight immediately has been freshman Kiki Robertson, who has provided maturity and consistent play during her first collegiate season. “Kiki really gets us into our tempo offensively and does a nice job in transition,” McCarthy commented on his guard who averages 11.9 points and 5.7 rebounds, while leading the team with 62 assists and 45 steals. “She makes really good reads, and that is impressive for an 18-year-old at this level.” 

KeKe Wright – another new face, who transferred from Gillette College (Wyo.) – has made a significant impact offensively as well, as she averages 10.1 points and leads the team with 7.8 rebounds per contest. “KeKe does really well down low for us, and she is able to punish opponents in inside situations,” McCarthy said, adding, “Emily Craft is another player who gives us a strong presence inside and works really well within our system.”

Kylie Burns, the lone senior on the Seawolves' squad, has not only provided leadership, but has contributed 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for UAA as well.

Defensively, the Seawolves rely on Robertson’s stealthy pickpocket ability and junior Alli Madison’s toughness in transition and scoring ability. “Alli had seven steals for us in our first game last week, and she does a nice job of reading passing lanes and knowing when to gamble defensively,” McCarthy said regarding his team’s leading scorer (16.6 points) and second-leading stealer with 27 on the season.

Despite their low ranking in the preseason poll and not appearing in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association top-25 to date this year, UAA hasn’t skipped a beat. “No other outcome would have motivated our girls to work as hard as they did during the preseason, and we just need to keep improving and working hard,” said McCarthy.

Following the holiday break, the Seawolves resume GNAC play with a pair of tough road contests against Northwest Nazarene and Central Washington. “Those are two really good teams, and for NNU, I know the character of their kids and coaches is great,” McCarthy commented on a school he spent time at as an assistant. “I have a lot of respect for both of those coaches and programs, and it will come down to our team holding to its standards and trying to outwork them defensively and on the boards.”