August 19, 2013

Over a year ago the National Junior College Athletic Association changed its rules. In past years, a basketball team could take an early run in the season and depending upon the number of wins—regardless who they played—could find themselves ranked nationally.  Not so anymore.

“Now, if you want to get ranked nationally, you have to beat some Junior College opponents,” explains new Northeastern Junior College Head Women’s Basketball Coach Dave Huss. “They’ve very much taken a ‘recruit, win, be rewarded’ approach to the national rankings.”

Northeastern used to find itself playing, in addition to Region IX opponents, teams such as Fort Carson and CCU’s junior varsity or All Star groups pulled together locally, or brought in from another area.  These games were often set up in the early part of the season to help build confidence and stamina for the Plainswomen as they usually were the clear winner. Things will change with the 2013-2014 game schedule.

Northeastern is set up this year with a brutal schedule early in the season. “Six of the 11 games we play will be against teams that were nationally ranked last year,” Huss notes.  Two of these teams played in the national tournament and one of these teams was a national champion several years ago.  Among those colleges NJC will come up against include Gillette College, Iowa Western College, North Idaho College, Casper College (twice) and Northeast Nebraska. 

The Plainswomen will face these teams primarily at tournaments they travel to—a few of them being individual matches here at home and on the road. “We will take on this level of competition and if we win, we know we are going up against really good teams—if we lose, we will have played against a very good team,” he said, “If we get some wins, we will be rewarded accordingly in the rankings.”

In Region IX, Huss says that Sheridan will be a powerhouse as they are bringing back a good number of experienced sophomores and they had a good season last year.  Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska will also have solid teams with quite a bit of returning talent.  “Northeastern will be there, if not one of three youngest teams in the region, probably one with the least experience in the south part of the region for sure,” Huss predicts.  On the bright side, however, he said he believes his team will match up well with Trinidad and Otero and several others who will have predominantly freshmen rosters. “McCook may be the sleeper. No one seems to know what they have going on over there.”

Your first opportunity to see the 2013-2104 women’s basketball team in action here at home will be during the Ramada Roundball Classic when the Plainswomen take on Iowa Western at 7:30 pm at Jackson and Edwards Arena inside the Bank of Colorado Event Center on campus. Mark your calendar and plan now to see what happens.