Northwest women’s basketball coach Austin Meyer has a few things in mind to change a culture.
As soon as he took helm of the program in March, the former men’s basketball assistant coach began to lay out the steps he has to take in order to send the program in the right direction.
This included finding an assistant coach who shows the same loyalty that Meyer gave men’s basketball coach Ben McCollum. He landed on Addae Houston, a former assistant for the program.
Now, the duo is working together to create the same culture Meyer built alongside McCollum.
“The blueprint that Coach McCollum has is a pretty good one,” Meyer said. “I’m not Ben McCollum, but we’re going to do a lot of the same stuff as our men’s program.”
Meyer hasn’t seen a difference of coaching on the women’s side thus far, and has noticed the drive to get better from the team’s 13 athletes.
“Our focus right now has been on ourselves,” Meyer said. “As Coach McCollum would say, developing that mental toughness muscle in our preseason.”
Of the group of athletes, sophomore guard Jaelyn Haggard has emerged as one of the team’s leaders. Haggard was named as the Miaa co-Freshman of the year following the 2017-18 season.
She started in all 27 games, and averaged 13 points and 2.5 assists in each appearance. Meyer says Haggard has been putting in the work to get better throughout the offseason.
The arrival of transfer guards Erika Schlosser and Kendy Eaton could take some of the pressure off Haggard.
“We still want her to make a lot of plays,” Meyer said. “But having multiple people that play point, know how to handle the ball, can maker her better.”
The Bearcats were picked to finish the season as No. 13 in the conference by coaches, No. 12 by the media.
Just like the climb of the men’s program, the change within the women’s team could take some time.
With tough competition in the conference, including defending Division II National Champion Central Missouri, each game serves as an opportunity to learn and improve.
“Our goal is to hopefully move up in the (MIAA standings) It’s going to be tough,” Meyer said. “It’s going to be a lot of work. But it’s going to be a lasting challenge.”
Other members of the Northwest’s coaching staff include graduate assistant Michaela Crall. Former Bearcat guard Macy Williams along with Grant Hopkins and Mason Hayward will serve as student assistants.
The Bearcats tip the season off Nov. 9 as they take on Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska.
Conference play begins Dec. 6 against Lincoln University.
“I’m just excited about our program moving forward,” Meyer said. “Northwest is a great place. We feel like it’s a place to get kids in on campus and try to move our program.”